Strategy

Telstra’s rebranding campaign: Is it right?

Kath Walters /

Telecommunications company, Telstra, is in the middle of a “rebranding campaign” managed by one of the nation’s best-known chief marketing officers, Mark Buckman.

Buckman joined Telstra 18 months ago from the Commonwealth Bank, at a time when Telstra was in the middle of significant change under chief executive David Thodey’s leadership.

Buckman has made big changes to Telstra’s marketing activities, and he points to a number of measures in support of his case that the campaign is having a positive effect on consumer perceptions of the brand, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.

Buckman’s detailed analysis of Telstra’s efforts offer insights for all leading companies about ways to measure return on investment in branding and marketing, although not all of them stand up to the scrutiny of the experts LeadingCompany spoke to today.

Branding or marketing?

Is Buckman really conducting a rebranding campaign? Not according to Mark Ritson, Melbourne Business School’s associate professor of marketing. “It is a repositioning, not a rebranding,” he says. “And strictly speaking, it is not even a repositioning.”

The company did not change its logo, but added a dramatic fan of bright colours around the logo, which are designed to create a greater “emotional connection” to the brand, Thodey said at the time of the relaunch, last September. It was created by the DDB Group’s specialist brand agency, Interbrand.

Independent brand advocate, Michel Hogan, is sceptical. “What everyone calls rebranding is remarketing, or repositioning. Sometimes it is ‘re-logoing’, or ‘re-taglining’. Even ‘realigning the brand’ doesn’t go deep enough for me.

“A brand is built up slowly over time through everything you do. A brand is the result of the promises made and promise kept.”

Benchmarking

Telstra’s brand value has gone up by $300 million to $5 billion, Buckman says, quoting recent figures from a British company, Brand Finance. Simon Rowell, founder of Brand Intellect, explains: “What Telstra is doing with Brand Finance is trying to benchmark themselves. When you are one of a few very large companies you have to use international benchmarks.”

This is one of the most expensive measures of success: benchmarking consultants charge for their services, Rowell says.

Customers in, revenue up

While revenue growth is a straightforward number to measure, understanding what part of the growth is attributable to the re-branding effort is more complex.  Rowell says: “You have to dissect down, look at what elements have changed. And other things come into play: communications and advertising is another part.

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