The 2006 Markinor/Sunday Times Top Brandssurvey placed Vodacom in the top five position of every category. Vodacom waschosen as South Africa’ssecond favourite overall brand after Coca-Cola, increasing its lead from thirdplace last year, while retaining its number one position as South Africa’sfavourite advertiser. Andre Beyers, Vodacom’s brand and advertising managingexecutive, shares some brand building secrets.
Whatare the principles upon which Vodacom has built its brand?
An organisation must define what it standsfor and base everything it does and says on that. The Vodacom brand is built onthe following tenets:
- Personality: it is humorous, warm, entertaining and fun.
- Bold: it is gutsy, intrepid and spunky.
- Inspiring: it is motivating, original and imaginative.
- Grounded: it is South African, down to earth, easygoing and genuine.
- Enthusiastic: it is passionate, vibrant and open.
The organisation lives by these valuesthrough what we call The Vodacom Way. It is based on leadership, winning,partnering, empowering, caring and innovation. Naturally, we have to give theconsumer out there reason to believe that we are who we say we are. We do thisby ensuring we remain the country’s leading cellular network, providing thewidest coverage, and engaging in meaningful sponsorship initiatives.
Whatlessons can businesses of all sizes learn from Vodacom’s successes?
- Consistency of the brand overtime is key. Understand your market place, know what moves and drives thepeople you are targeting. Make sure your products deliver. Beyond etherealpromises, your product must offer value, service and convenience.
- Communication plays a vitalrole in the marketing mix. If you focus only on rational communication, youdon’t touch the heart. Also, always make some element of your advertisingaccessible to everybody. Vodacom has built likeable and humorous brand iconswho have given us an emotional affinity with our market over time
- Sponsorship is hugelyimportant. Sporting events bring people together; they create pride, andprovide a way for the nation to relax.
- Strive to be a good corporatecitizen and remember there is a fine balance between doing what’s right andmaking a noise about it. We are cautious to communicate about our communityinitiatives because we have no interest in patting ourselves on the back.
- Every action and everyutterance either builds or detracts from the brand: protect it and back it withexcellent service levels.
Whenshould you reinvigorate a brand?
Experienced marketers believe in the powerof consistency. If your brand is working, don’t tamper with it too much; you’llrisk alienating your customers. By the same token, if your brand has becomestaid or dull, or is no longer relevant to an evolving market, it’s time torefresh it. Vodacom chose Mo the Meerkat, who made his debut in 2005, to makethe brand more relevant to the youth market. Today kids love him.
Yebo remains the brand essence. It isabsolutely South African, and “yes” is the most positive form of affirmation.