BT books Design House revamp

Design House is revamping BT’s residential phone book, delivered to 22 million UK homes, as the telecoms giant goes ‘head to head’ with Thomson and Yellow Pages in the local directories market.

A Southampton and Winchester area edition, which will carry substantial classified advertising for the first time, is due out shortly, following a successful pilot of the concept in York.

Design House is working on templates for the look and layout of the book in ‘up to three phases of development,’ says head of brand strategy Tom Christie-Miller.

‘Every single page of the layout, including a new introductory section, is being looked at,’ says Christie-Miller. At present, the design is retaining the existing typographic style.

‘The endgame should be one design, [but] it’s a process of refinement and being responsive to customers’ feedback – both people placing the ads and consumers,’ he adds.

Christie-Miller says BT intends to turn the phone book into ‘a commercial asset for the business’. The company sold Yell to venture capitalists in 2001, but acquired Scoot last July. The Scoot operation is being subsumed into BT services and the Scoot brand name will disappear, says a spokesman.

BT’s move represents its re-entry into the directories sector at a time when the market is liberalising. New players such as the Wolff Olins-designed The Number may now offer directory enquiries services. BT’s own service, 118 500, runs in parallel with 192 until the latter is phased out in August this year.

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