I think it’s now safe to assume that any rebranding efforts of any company will have people who are for and those who are against it. The only variable factor is such ratio.
The common denominator for the complains that I’ve read and heard up until now, is Cell C’s decision to use the copyright sign as part of their logo, their brand mark.
As tempting as it is to rant about the look and the technicality of the brand mark, as a result, blame whoever was hired to design the logo. I’ll try to discuss the rebranding from Cell C, the consumers, its competitors, and the identity designers’ standpoint.
As belittling as this sounds to graphic designers; design is merely a means to an end. That is to say, in this context, design is not a product. It’s a solution to a challenge.
The bottom line is that: A business commissions a designer, or a team of designers, to do something that will do something which will help multiply its bottom line.
By that very fact, I will only “rant” about colour schemes, choice of typography, contrast, proportion, kerning etc. towards the end. A place, stage, or phase where graphic design contributes by helping to articulate a business’s branding strategy.
Let’s start with an imperative part of a brand’s upbringing. The branding strategy.
Something that is mostly conveyed and reinforced through the brand’s marketing gimmicks and efforts. Such marketing efforts are mostly consumed visually by consumers, so this is pretty much where graphic design comes into play.
The fundamental issue here is that Cell C isn’t yielding returns that the brand owners hoped for. I might be wrong, but why re-strategize if your current strategy is fruitful?
But then, it could also be Cell C’s attempt to adjust to the change in the marketplace caused by its competitors’ revised marketing or branding strategies, if there are any.
The Perceptions and The Misconceptions
The brand gives the logo meaning, not the other way round.
When a brand is not performing as per its shareholders aspirations, in almost all cases, what needs to be revised, improved, or changed is the product or the branding strategy, not the brand’s visual identity.
To better a second-rate bakery, hiring a competent and talented baker is likely to be more fruitful than merely changing the bakery’s logo.
When one sees, say, Apple’s logo on a product, the trust and expectations etc. that one has with regards to Apple is immediately attached to that product. It’s those associations in one’s mind that will affect one’s buying decision, not the logo per se.
It’s a consultant’s reputation that wins them clients, not their name. Their name just happen to bring the consultant’s reputation to mind when read, or heard of.
The Branding Strategy and The Competitors
When Cell C was launched, its owners knew that they were going head-to-heads against MTN and Vodacom, two well-establised brands.
I guess it’s safe to assume that Cell C was brought to being after its owners were convinced that is, and will forever be growth in the mobile telecommunication sector. Growth of which I think there is, and there will forever be. Thus, ’tis a sensible move.
Fine MTN and Vodacom are tatooed in our minds, but that’s only two brands.
Therefore, there surely is a branding promise, other than the one by MTN, and the one by Vodacom, that could resonate with mobile phone users. Unlike the automotive industry, where just about every possible brand promise is already promised.
Cell C’s mistake is that they focused too much of their resources (energy, time, money etc.) on trying to “take” clients from MTN and Vodacom, instead of building emotional attachment with soon-to-be first-time mobile phone users. And then let long time users who ditch their competitors to join them be cherry on top.
Cell C’s pursuit to lure their competitors’ clients led them to the inevitable — competing merely on price — being the cheapest. A short-sighted branding strategy.
What consumers seek is a sensible relativity between the asking price and the value that whatever they buy will yield. Plus, there other dynamics such as coverage, a technical facet, that steers consumers’ decision as to which network to be a patron of.
The Brand Identity (Form/Function/Intent)
First of all, unless one knows what the design was employed to achieve, one will inevitably judge the identity solely based on its aesthetics and that of its predecessor.
Secondly, we all know how much of a final say the client has over the designer.
Not to use that as excuse for below par design, but whether the design is good or not, it is the client that approves it.
Question is: Should the designer spend their precious time trying convince a client to opt for such-and-such look while the client has a favourite in mind? That’s client/designer politics, best left for another day.
Thirdly, I think that for so long as the logo adheres with the technical “must follow” logo design rules, with time and sufficient exposure people will get accustomed to the logo.
Aesthetics-wise I am a fan of the old logo.
Cell C’s problem might be that they too thinks that rebranding forces one to redesign their identity too.
The challenge is a change of strategy is not as immediate (visibility) as the visuals, hence, a redesign.
The introduction of Cell C was welcomed with smiles, for it meant more choice for cellphone users.
And I must say, their “we’ve arrived” campaign was killer. And I really don’t know what happened.
Part of me thinks that people behind the brand are a bit impatient. No amount of deep, fancy, or funny ads could kill MTN and Vodacom with ease. Cell C’s should have judged
Cell C was somewhat force to compete on price.
“The power is in your hands” is too lame for my liking for a slogan, esp. one for a mobile operator. Such slogans should be left to political parties. From Cell C consumer wants connectivity, not power.
What the speaker says doesn’t matter
…It’s what the listener makes of the spoken that matters.
Simon Camerer, a marketing executive at Cell C states that, “There is no significance in the Cell C Logo resembling the copyright symbol. Primarily, the “C” in the centre represents Cell C putting the customer at the centre of everything it does. The logo is not designed to look like the copyright symbol.”
It’s not what he who speaks tries to express, it’s how the spoken to sees or comprehend the spoken.
At the end of the day, it’s Cell C’s bottom line that should do the talking. The proof is in the balance sheet type of a thing.
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