Airtel has a new Logo. Heart it?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.