Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Rebranding of Bharti Airtel Ltd.: A Case of Logo Change

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Rebranding of Bharti Airtel Ltd.: A Case of Logo Change

Article excerpt


"We are at a significant stage of evolution at the moment. This brand is now going to be visible in two different continents. This will signal our readiness to change." Mohit Beotra, head of brand and media at Bharti Airtel explained the launch of new logo of Bharti Airtel. He was talking about the need for the company to focus its shift from voice to data services catering to the needs of new generation of young customers. Also, as the company increased its footprint globally by acquiring telecom businesses in emerging economies of Asia and Africa, it had to project itself as a company which has an international appeal. These two developments caused the company to launch a new logo. But the question was, with an intention of going global has the company forgotten its local customer? The launch of a new logo was a risky proposition as a sudden replacement of a brand which had huge association, both tangible and intangible, with customers and non-customers alike could result in skepticism and resistance to change. After the launch of new logo, serious doubts were raised regarding its brand differentiation ability as the design of new logo was perceived to be very similar to that of Videocon and Vodafone. The company was not new to the rebranding process as it had undergone rebranding thrice from the time it started its operation in Delhi in 1995. This rebranding of the company involving change in logo was understood by studying the drivers and methodology used in the entire process by focusing especially on its latest rebranding exercise carried out by the company in the year 2010. This phase of rebranding involved launching of Airtel brand with same logo in different geographies. However, brands with similar logos pursued in different geographies with different cultures involve risk of brand confusion and blurring of brand identity (Abou et al., 2003). Thus, internationalization of Airtel brand brought new challenges for the company. Lastly, the consequences of change in logo were studied by comparing consumers' reaction towards well-established old logo and newly created logo. Rebranding can be carried out by change in name, logo or slogan. But this case study, by emphasizing on 2010 rebranding exercise, has kept the scope to study the logo change.

Telecom Sector in India

The telecom industry in India has experienced a dramatic growth since the sector was opened to competition under National Telecom Policy (NTP) (1994). In the beginning of this millennium, the geographic coverage of mobile services was quite low, as there were only approximately 4.80 million mobile subscribers. But after 2005, the number of mobile subscribers grew by over 1000% and increased from 52.22 million to 584.32 million by 2010.1 The share of mobile phones out of the total telephone connections increased from 44.02% at the end of March 2004 to 95.23% at the end of October 2010. The mobile sector with over 80% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)2 during the last decade, has the highest growth among developing countries. In less than a decade, tele-density has increased from less than 20% to over 70%.3 Increasing urbanization, rising incomes and favorable demographics were attributed as some of the major reasons for such a stupendous growth, making India the second fastest growing telecom market.

Such a high growth was a part of folklore as in pre-reform era; especially during the 1980s, the investment in telecom sector was between 1.4 and 2.7% of GDP. The telecom industry was completely controlled and governed by state-owned firms like BSNL and MTNL. Thus absence of competition caused poor quality of service, low penetration and huge unmet demand. The tele-density was as low as 1%. But gradually it was realized that telecommunications was one of the key drivers of growth. This realization came because it was increasingly seen that a robust telecom network was essential for future information technologies.

Thus, for rapid development of telecom sector in the country, the government formulated NTP (1994) which was aimed at improving India's competitiveness in the global market. …

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