Branding expert says MTN’s new look ‘makes sense’ across continents

By our News Team | 2022

Africa-wide cellular network giant given credit for the simplicity of its new logo design. But it faces challenges in a commoditised industry.

The recent rebranding announcement by Africa-wide cellular telecommunications company MTN has attracted widespread interest and commentary from consumers and others.

But what do marketing experts think? Dr Thomas Oosthuizen, a marketing and branding consultant with some of the continent’s biggest businesses before relocating to the UK, has given his take on what seems to be an attempt to move the company’s positioning away from being just a mobile communications business, to a digital and financial services player.

“I like it,” Oosthuizen says. “It makes sense on two continents – for example, in countries like Guinea Conakry, South Sudan and Yemen – where renditions often are non-official as people and airtime dealers take ownership of it. The best accolade any brand can get [is that] the new logo simplifies that immensely”.

Rebranding Strategy

Photo credit: MTN

He notes that the brand is “exceptionally iconic” in Africa and is almost a religion in some countries.

“Off course there are problems, but let that never overshadow the immense impact of a bright yellow brand in the bare streets of Sanaa or Khartoum.

How will logo be applied online in a dynamic way?

“Yet I do see some challenges. I would like to see how this will be applied online in a dynamic way. By this I do not mean using ‘dots’ to depict a digital space like so many brands seem to believe.”

He adds: “Dynamism lies in constant dialogue, not in one-way communication. The way a brand integrates into life in a meaningful way. Let us never forget, we only get a response when the stimulus is relevant and someone wants to engage.”

According to Oosthuizen, this is particularly important with the unveiling of a new strategy, as it means the symbolism must go beyond the expected. The dynamism must retain, and build on, the traction of what is the most inspiring brand to come out of Africa. 

“MTN must ensure their identity underpins the strategic intent with the customer engagement required within an industry that is almost entirely commoditised. The competition in the telco industry is one of the most severe today,” he says.

“[Equally] as important is to retain the focus on what many telcos are weak at: customer-experience … and to add meaningfulness to a commoditised industry – [which is] probably the greatest business-driver.”

Besides changes to its logo, MTN has replaced its old payoff line ‘Everywhere you go’ with ‘Y’ello’, a phrase that has been used previously in its marketing communications strategy.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.