Telkom 'insane' to drop 8ta brand - TechCentral

Telkom ‘insane’ to drop 8ta brand


Telkom’s decision to phase out the well-known 8ta trademark and to rename its consumer cellular business Telkom Mobile could hurt the brand given that the telecommunications operator has a tarnished reputation among many consumers.

In a letter to staff on Friday, Telkom Mobile MD Attila Vitai told employees that the 8ta brand was going to be phased out in favour of using Telkom Mobile instead.

Media and marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk says changing the name means the millions of rand spent on building the 8ta brand was an “enormous waste of money”.

“It means a complete rebranding and these days that runs into millions,” Moerdyk says. “It’s not just advertising, but sign-boarding and absolutely everything that has to change.”

Millions are wasted on bad marketing in South Africa each year, he says. “People ‘kneejerk’ their way into marketing decisions instead of doing their homework properly.”

Moerdyk says Telkom’s original decision to name its mobile business 8ta could have been just such a kneejerk move. Although the initial idea was probably to distance the brand from Telkom, which “wasn’t bad thinking at all”, he argues the operator “shouldn’t have gone with a name that was so meaningless to the segment of the market that had the most money to spend”.

The rebranding suggests that the company is “no longer ashamed of the Telkom name”, he adds. “Telkom Mobile does, actually, say it all.”

The challenge for the mobile operator is going to be overcoming the “natural inclination of a large number of South Africans to shudder at the mere mention of Telkom”.

Overhauling the mobile arm’s branding, according to Moerdyk, is a “completely insane” move and is reminiscent of car maker Toyota’s decision to replace the slogan “Everything keeps going right” with the forgettable “Lead the way”.

However, he says he welcomes the move to change the name insofar as he didn’t think much of the 8ta brand when it was launched in 2010.

“I think that it was an ill-considered brand name because it was clearly aimed at only one segment of the population,” he says. “It may have been the largest segment, but one shouldn’t ignore any segment of your potential market.”

Media analyst Jeremy Maggs says he understands why Telkom created a separate brand for its mobile business when it launched 8ta given the “baggage” associated with the parent brand.

“I think when 8ta was launched it was a good strategy, but in hindsight I’m not convinced the brand has achieved the traction [Telkom] wanted it to. I can understand the strategy behind moving it back under the Telkom umbrella.”

However, Maggs says he thinks that the 8ta brand will suffer as a result of the decision because the name Telkom still carries negative connotations for many consumers.

“I’m not sure 8ta was the right brand name,” Maggs says. “It wanted to be hip and cool and modern, but I’m not entirely sure that was a good move. The name didn’t work for me and I’m not convinced the market they were aiming at bought into it either.”

Telkom has said the rebranding will not take place suddenly but will instead be done over a period of time.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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