Brand strategy behind Telecom + Lightbox

Telecom wants to be cool again. The company really, really wants people to like the brand – so much so that it has undertaken a massive rebrand, has partnered with Spotify, and is now releasing a Netflix/Sky alternative, Lightbox.  Oh and did we mention that slightly ridiculous Giganaire ad? The one which has the line, “I don’t gig a dang about my streaming.” Yep.

The telecommunications giant has long been unpopular among younger audiences due to the way it was positioned – the brand was good for businesses and older folk, providing them with reliability and consistency in exchange for exorbitant prices.

But now it really wants to be cool. First we wrote about the Spotify partnership and the new colours that Telecom introduced. Younger audiences in New Zealand are becoming more and more valuable, and it seems like Telecom management picked up on this quite quickly. With competition from Vodafone and 2 Degrees in cellular, and Vodafone, Slingshot, and Orcon in fixed line and broadband, the company simply can not afford to position itself as a high-end, high-cost telecommunications provider.

The Spotify deal doesn’t provide much value to the customer, but it’s doing wonders for brand alignment. It’s a nice perk – we do enjoy ad-free music at higher quality – but the partnership is providing more value to the brand than to the customer.

A Spotify premium account is only $12.99 a month, and this pales in comparison to the $50-$120 plans that most people make use of. If you can afford a high-level Telecom plan, you can probably spare $3.25 a week for a Spotify premium account. But in collaboration with Telecom’s new brand objectives, the deal has made the company seem fresh, innovative, and up to speed – all values that a modern telecommunications provider should have.

Telecom’s announcement of Netflix sort-of rival Lightbox just as it moves towards changing its name is no coincidence either. The company is giving people a reason to talk about the brand beyond what it can do for them, and it’s also going a step above all other telcos in New Zealand. It’s attempting to open up the virtually untapped Internet TV market.

Younger audiences have very limited attention spans. They want to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and having a network dictate what you watch and when just doesn’t work anymore.

Gen Y is also incredibly loyal when it comes to technology, possibly more so than the previous generation. Think about the Apple vs Samsung smartphone debates or the LG vs Sony TV rivalry. They’re essentially the same product, and that’s what Gen X sees – they see a sophisticated piece of technology with a high price.

Ask your parents (assuming they’re not marketing specialists) what they think of Samsung or Apple, and they probably won’t focus on the brand side of things, but if you asked us, we’d argue that Apple’s brand is more appealing to us than Samsung’s, and that Apple is made with the creators and innovators in mind. We don’t buy Samsung products because we dislike how they work, but more importantly, we dislike the values and branding behind the company.

If you’d like to learn more about what makes Apple a leader, check out this TEDx talk from Simon Sinek.

It’s highly possible that similar strategies are being used at Telecom HQ. If the telco giant is able to satisfy all of your connectivity needs through one company that positions itself as progressive, trendy, and modern, you’re probably going to want to be loyal to that company.

If I can get an iPhone, a good mobile plan, a free Spotify membership, Ultra Fibre home internet, and any business requirements that I may have through Telecom, I will. Add Lightbox to that mix, and they now hold my interest when I’m being entertained too.

Big corporations often try to own as much of your attention as they can. A theory that was circulating around Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR is that Facebook wants to own as much of your daily life as it can. You use the company to message friends and stay in touch, you constantly browse your news feed, and with Oculus Rift, you could immerse yourself in a completely different reality, which Facebook would own.

Lightbox could be Telecom’s Oculus Rift.

There’s a range of factors that make Telecom’s recent strategies admirable. It’s incredible to see such a big company move so quickly, and it’s refreshing to see innovation coming to the company’s business units.

The changes have been met with some criticism, specifically from INSIDE Telecom. A mild dispute between a Telecom employee and CEO Simon Moutter made headlines on Techday just days ago, with Telecom staff  anonymously saying that many employees were considering leaving the company.

Maybe this is a good thing. Things are finally being disrupted at the once stagnant company from its core to its fringes.

What is your take on Telecom’s recent activities? Let us know in the comments.

Comment on “Brand strategy behind Telecom + Lightbox”

  1. Charlie Ferris says:

    Not to mention they also launched Skinny, which is cheaper + aimed at younger audiences! 🙂

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