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REBRANDING STRATEGY

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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