Vodafone and Orange square up for mobile future

Glimpses of long-awaited revamps for both Orange and Vodafone were seen for the first time this week.

Glimpses of long-awaited revamps for both Orange and Vodafone were seen for the first time this week.

France Telecom has finally begun to overhaul its global branding under a strategy to bring all communications businesses under the Orange brand. The move follows an extensive strategic consultation with Interbrand.

At the same time, rival company Vodafone has announced record financial losses, job cuts and a future strategy that includes a global roll-out of its redesigned identity (pictured), created by Enterprise IG.

The two mobile giants each issued statements outlining plans last week. France Telecom is folding its Wanadoo, Equant and Etrali businesses into the Orange brand worldwide to create a single customer ‘experience’ spanning broadband, fixed-line and mobile services for consumers and business.

It is part of the company’s NExT strategy for integrated telecommunications, which includes the creation of a design and innovation centre in Paris, where Clive Grinyer – former director of design and usability for Orange Global Products – becomes design director (DW 13 April).

According to Andy Payne, Interbrand creative director in London, the consultancy’s work has been a ‘heavy strategic process’, handled at the London and Paris offices and focusing on how to ‘stretch’ the Orange brand to incorporate additional businesses and services.

‘I don’t think the brand was ever conceived to stretch in the way it is now. It is pushing its guidelines to the limits, but they have been able to cope,’ says Payne. ‘The brand also has the recognition and power to hold a number of different creative approaches. The optimism that was part of the original brand when it entered the market as a “reassurer” has stood the test of time.’

Interbrand will continue to work as ‘brand adviser and guardian’ for Orange and will support France Telecom in the global roll-out, according to Payne. He declines to name other consultancies involved in the branding project.

Meanwhile, Vodafone posted a £14.9bn loss in the year to 31 March, largely the result of £23.5bn of costs from the £183bn acquisition of Mannesmann in Germany in 2000. It also announced the loss of 400 jobs.

According to a spokeswoman for Enterprise IG, Vodafone’s relationship with both the consultancy and WPP’s Team Vodafone unit are unaffected by these announcements. ‘Enterprise IG has recently re-secured its contract and remains part of Team Vodafone,’ she says.

A redesigned visual identity, created by Enterprise IG, was trialled in Portugal and Romania and is now being rolled out globally, as predicted in Design Week (DW 12 January).

Like Orange, Vodafone’s strategy focuses on providing a complete communications package to consumers. It is also seeking to reduce costs and stimulate revenue in Europe by introducing pricing plans that encourage the use of mobile phones in the home and office.

Vodafone:

2006 – Enterprise IG re-secured position as brand guardian, as part of WPP’s Team Vodafone unit

2006 – Rolling out redesigned visual identity globally, following trials in Portugal and Romania

Orange:

2001 – Interbrand appointed as brand guardian

2005 – Chosen by owner France Telecom as the global brand for all consumer and business communications services

2006 – Opening Explocentre, a design and innovation centre in Paris, design director Clive Grinyer

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