Airtel has a new Logo. Heart it?

Airtel new logo

Airtel has a new logo

A couple of weeks ago, when the first leaked picture of Airtel’s new logo flashed on my twitter timeline, I had a very clear reaction in my mind. “This must be one of the initial options offered by an agency to Airtel. Fortunately the heads at Airtel choose to go for what we know as its current logo and not this. Good decision!” Oops…

Bharti Airtel, world’s fifth largest telecommunication company and India’s largest mobile service provider, launched its new brand (logo) on 18th November, 2010, marking the company’s 200 million customer milestone. It is backed by a re-branding exercise costing about Rs. 350 crores. The company has also launched a new tagline, “Dil jo chahe, pass laye” and signature tune by A.R. Rahman.

Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, Sunil Bharti Mittal announced, “Fifteen years ago Bharti airtel started its journey in India with a promise of delivering world class and affordable services… reinforces our promise to deliver innovative services and a superior brand experience to our 200 million customers across Asia and Africa.” He also describes the new brand as “youthful, international, inclusive and dynamic – representing the journey of the first Indian brand to go truly global”.

Just to let you know, Airtel is present in every nook and corner of India, distributed in every possible media, from a simple leaflet to a multi-crore television advertisement. And after its $9-billion acquisition of an African telecom, the presence expanded to 19 countries across Asia and Africa. So when a rebranding of such a company is being worked on, it is a big step! Sometime back, even Gap tried to attempt a similar one.

The new logo of Airtel has been designed by a London based agency, Brand Union. It has the letter “a” in lowercase, forming a mark for the brand and airtel, written in lowercase under it. Call it a co-incidence if you like but the same agency is behind the Vodafone logo as well. Does that ring a bell? Brand’s new positioning is being handled by JWT in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh while Ogilvy is taking care of the same in African nations.

Airtel and Zain Telecom

Airtel's old logo and Zain Telecom is equal to Airtel's new logo?

Reactions on the new Logo

According to a poll on Fonearena, out of 2100 people who voted, a considerable 50% dislike the logo while 38% support it and 12% seem to not care. Even the reactions on Twitter and Facebook are hardly in favour of the brand. Many users termed the new logo as “non-appealing”. Some of them also seem to miss the old connect, they felt with the brand. On the other hand, a few have confessed a connect with the logo’s youthfulness.

Honestly, the previous logo of Airtel was not great, technically or aesthetically. Over the years, coupled with such widespread presence, we probably started liking it. The new logo is almost similar in terms of aesthetics and appeal. Whereas, with a new brand, the expectations always steer towards the higher side.

Again, without being involved or aware of the branding process, I cannot say much. I personally believe it is a good move from Airtel’s side, given the fact that they are going global by the hour. However, it is not a great choice for the logo they finalized. As mentioned before, the type has very low aesthetic appeal. I did not get to research on the type used here but I guess it is very close to Dax and Aller. Though both of them are beautiful types, may be their customization has played bad with the final outcome.

The mark works and doesn’t work at the same time. Why does it work? It works because with Airtel going global, it needed a symbol or a mark to make the brand independent of any language, especially with non-English speaking countries. Why does it not work? In the case of Airtel, it needs a mark/symbol that signifies its identity without stating the brand in text. It must also not seem related to other pre-existing marks and have a unique personality.

The new logo of Airtel seems to have uncanny resemblance to the likes of Vodafone, Videocon, Air Arabia and the telecom company, Airtel acquired, Zain Telecom. Moreover, the mark faintly displays an Uppercase D. Do you agree with these resemblances?

Airtel and other similar logos

Airtel's new logo and the logos it resembles

Nevertheless, the first television commercial of the rebranding, “Endless Goodbye” has got great response overall. Almost everyone has appreciated the concept, the message and its implementation.

What is missing?

As we see it, there are a few relevant and critical things missing from the latest branding of Airtel.

  • Consumer Connect – Essentially, a logo should resonate with the brand and its consumers. They should have ideally helped its consumers with a Brand Story to ease the connection with its new brand.
  • Consistency – It is said for corporate brands that if you are consistent, you have won the war with your competitors.  Again, with a rebrand, change of brand colors is possible and rational. However, it is ought to be done in a way, which helps its consumers in making the shift. Red is Vodafone. Airtel has been Red and White, not just Red. This jump is intricate.
  • Competition – Ideally, a brand has to steer away from its competition and find itself a unique personality. As mentioned before, the mark and colors of new Airtel logo have resemblance with many existing brands.
Famous Brands

Famous Brands that work without their Logotype

Here is a witty take by a friend

This is how the rebranding process would have started!

Sunil Bharti Mittal: I think we should change our logo, I like the Vodafone logo, the red, the font, the presence.

Brand Union (Agency): Aapka Dil jo chahe pass laye but hum zyaada paas nahi ja sakte because ‘same to same’ ho jayega.

(In English) Whatever your heart wishes, bring it closer but we cannot do that because it will look too similar.

Sunil Bharti Mittal: Thode paas chale jao and give me the new logo.

(In English) Get close enough and give the new logo.

Brand Union (Agency): Here is the new logo.

Sunil Bharti Mittal: This is great. And yeah please put the line ‘Dil jo chahe pass laye’ as the new brand message too. Here is 300 Crores. Sab jagah chap do ab. (In English) Post it everywhere possible.


Airtel: Very Happy, Users: Very Angry, Vodafone: Doesn’t matter


Keeping the future strategies and plans in mind, it is definitely an intelligent move from Airtel. At the same time, they could have added a lot more by backing it with a more appealing logo, unless of course, they were trying to recreate the Gap story. With such a vast presence in India and other countries, this logo will surely find acceptance. However, a good brand campaign will help in pacing the process.

What do you think of the new logo? What are the key learnings for you?

Airtel’s New Signature Tune

Airtel’s New TVC – Endless Goodbye

With contributions from:

Anshul Sushil, an alum from ITBHU and MICA, has over 5 years of experience in branding & advertising and was involved in the transformation of HCL as a global technology brand.

Arpan Desai, an iPhone Developer, CAPTCHA researcher, Startup enthusiast. You may connect with him on Twitter.

Hitesh Mehta, a User Experience Design expert from Mumbai. Currently heads UX team of a leading internet portal from India. He also specializes in logo & branding design.

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About the Author:

Himanshu Khanna is the founder of Pixelonomics and a senior designer at Sparklin. If you’d like to connect with him, follow him on Twitter: @SparklinGuy

  • Manika Kakkar

    nice post
    very well written :)

  • Harshit Vishwakarma

    I don’t understand the meaning and concept behind that swoosh.But considering company’s growth and the strategy to venture our globally, it’s evident that they need a symbol and icon to connect to their International non English customers and have global recognition just like Nike/Apple.
    Overall an okay design.Not worth the money spent.
    Could have been better.

  • Manya Sharma

    Airtel has really taken a big chance to its brand value. The logo is not at all going with its personality and users cant really find their airtel in it. Its more like they are trying to copy vodafone. A wise brain said.. to even copy u need brain…NAKAL KE LIYE BHI AKAL CHAIYE. Well lets see what would be their reaction after so much of criticism.

  • Nidhi

    Rebranding involves a complicated thought process. Without knowing about the company’s idea behind this new logo, we cannot really comment on its pros and cons. As an end user, however, it is unappealing. Moreover, as pointed out, it is very similar to Vodafone and Videocon, and hence does not have an original connect with the audience. It is sort of diminishing the brand value of the company.

  • Santanu Paul

    I dont like the new logo. Its way too curvy, cartoon-ish, comic sans for me. I guess Airtel is trying to portray a fun, casual image. May be they r trying to woo the teens. (DOCOMO effect?) It may or may not work for others, for me it doesn’t. Imagine Blackberry having a rounded lowercase “b” as its logo. *shudders*

  • Manav Dhiman

    Nice take on Airtel’s new logo! I personally find it quite good, but at the same time the previous logo has its mark on us. It has been around for 8 years or so (I guess?). Nice post, btw! :)

  • Varh_sim

    Nice Airtel logo, it looks really cute and I think nowadays since everything is advancing, a new logo would be right. It’s been many years since Airtel started with it’s previous logo, but this one is more like this new ear and hopefully more appealing to the users(it is to me :)).

  • Nehaa Behl

    Great insights!!!

  • Rajat Gupta

    I don’t think Airtel will repeat GAP’s story..
    I feel over the time this logo will gain acceptance..

  • Hareesh Reddy K

    I see human EAR in the new Airtel symbol .perhaps the concept would be keep Airtel with u for talking over phone Just like vodafone’s symbol “start conversation” with >> ( ‘ ) in red color as a drop surrounded by white fringe. Airtel definately needs a symbol to reach non-english speaking people in the other parts of the world esp African and west Asian countries.I felt this logo will backfire just like ‘GAP’ but i heard it is going good. lets see what happens ..

  • Navoneel Pal

    The previous logo wasnt something extraordinary.. but i dont feel like accepting the new one either …. but the new TVC is good..

    • Arpan Desai

      the connect of Airtel brand in my opinion is the Airtel tune – composed by A.R.Rahman.

      • Himanshu Khanna

        Do you like the Airtel’s new tune?

        • Arpan Desai

          the connect of Airtel brand in my opinion ‘was’ the Airtel tune – composed by A.R.Rahman. sorry..! but the new tune is soon featured in either Engima album or Buddha Bar , completely obscure.

        • Vishal

          Initially i was like WTF but when i heard it on radio while driving i kinda liked it.

  • Hitesh Mehta
    • Arpan Desai

      have checked them , awesome..!

      • Hitesh Mehta

        Thanks :)

  • Rabi Gupta

    Liked your Airtel+Zain analysis., looks bang on! Great work :)

  • Deepikah Arora

    Great well researched article Himanshu. I like your way of breaking down the analysis.

    2 things 1.first the logo: To me its just any other logo, it could be a bakery shop, WC company or another chinese cellphone maker. It has no real connect to telecom/global/emotions. To make things worse its ditto Vodafone. This logo violates the most basic of re-branding guidelines (ref Wally Olins): Stay away from the colours of the competition brand. disappointed. Speaking non-seriously it looks like poo. 2. The commercial:I have seen this on TV but it didnt register as an airtel ad. honest. Its a beautiful ad , reminds me of the movie ‘Before Sunset’ .

    • Arpan Desai

      yeah great point you made: the color of competition, they could at least selected a different color.! but i think current Indian telecom companies are services focussed as of these reasons.
      1. Around 600 mn Indians have cellphones – remaining people either can’t afford it , or don’t want it (yeah there are some people like this) 2. Mobile number portability as new connection is cheaper like anything , all companies will focus on the service packs.

      So soon we see more service oriented ads , and Brand will be side focused to create more impact on services.

    • Vishal

      Yeah .. it does reminds us of the movie “before sunset “

    • Paritosh

      1. Try and look at the logo as a normal day to day consumer and not as a designer. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s peppy and certainly youthful!

      2. So you liked it so much that you don’t consider it as an advert? LOL…

      • Deepikah Arora

        like I said it could be a logo for any random company. wats airtel abt it? even my maid doesnt like it :P

  • Abhijeet Makhijani

    i like the new logo.

  • Vishal

    Excellent post… i’ve been thinking on this topic for a while and I was a bit confused. I think Airtel made a good move by rebranding right before the number portability thing. The logo does seem to have a hint of human ear which kind of goes in sync with their service.

    My two cents is that Branding is all bout living your promise and as long as Airtel provides good services people will accept their logo and tune.

  • Anonymous

    I understand fully that Bharti is trying to reach out to a global audience with this logo, however I’m very curious about how well the logo resonates with Airtel’s existing clientele in India specifically and the rest of Asia generally? I ask that question against the background of the illusion big companies operate under.. that a brand is 90% logo, packaging, advertising and promotion, and very little of it has anything to do with how the product is delivered, how good the support function is and whether customers are empowered enough to troubleshoot and attempt to rectify challenges before reaching out to the company.So what’s the feeling about this branding revamp in India?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the logo is all that original…. If you take a look at it, it’s pretty similar to the videocon logo… color badlo and flip the logo… they could have been a lot more creative… but the ad campaign is pretty good! love the commercials…

  • Paritosh

    It’s very easy to say “I don’t like the logo or the tune” but for once think about the team involved in designing the logo and the composer of tune. They are not amateurs and have experience more than you or me. And all those complaining about brand connect, where you able to connect with the previous logo or the tune? I don’t think so. It’s just the hype created around their re-branding that so many are finding out the negative’s instead of appreciating it.

    As far as I am concerned, personally, the new signature tune is awesome! Much much better than the previous one. And the Logo, I like it as well! So what if the color theme is similar to vodafone. Moreover it’s the service that matter not the logo a company carries.

  • Paritosh

    And one point I forgot, It’s not just about India but global audience as well.

  • Pingback: 30 Logo redesigns of 2010 - Pixelonomics – Opinions & Discussions on Life, Web, Design, Movies, Events, Photography, Entrepreneurship & more()

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