It has been just over a month since TSTT relaunched its Bmobile brand with an extensive rebranding campaign that was typified by them taking over the cover page of every daily newspaper. They did it again 2 weeks later and have also consistently been present on TV, radio, outdoor media and social media with the simple message “Life is on”. They accompanied their message with their brand new logo, a simplified “b” that resembles the “play” symbol in their trademark green.
It was one of the largest rebranding campaigns that Trinidad had seen probably since TSTT launched Bmobile in 2006. If there’s one thing you can say about them is that they do it big. The scope of the campaign certainly tells us one thing for sure, that the competition between communication providers is more intense than it has ever been. Since 2014 Digicel had achieved dominance in the mobile market with 56% market share, and Bmobile retaining the remaining 44% according to Business Monitor International. The market share for their internet services may be even smaller as they would see competition from Flow, Massy Communications, Greendot and Digicel. Competition on the market has become so overwhelming that they felt the need to make a statement and they certainly did. But is this campaign effective enough to pry customers who have strayed to the competition?
Branding is more of a marathon than a sprint, so while it may be too early to measure the effectiveness of Bmobile’s rebranding efforts, it feels as though the mobile giant got it wrong. Let’s take a look at why Bmobile’s branding campaign might fail.
I can honestly admit that since the launch, a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t heard or seen “Life Is On.” With this amount of paid advertising, Bmobile could ensure that the brand could be identified in every nook and cranny of the Eastern Caribbean. They clearly want to establish their new direction, but the emphasis on brand awareness seems overdone and unnecessary, as it almost feels like a political campaign. While a focus on improving brand awareness is important to establish the new look and to stay in the consumers’ minds, there is also something called over-promotion. There is only so much you can promote before your audience is annoyed by the constant promotional messages. Generally, anything that is over-promoted loses its value as it may be deemed as unwanted, so holding back a bit can actually be beneficial, it’s all about finding the right balance.
Weak Brand Message
The campaign also lacks a strong brand message or brand promise. This fuels the issue of over-promotion of the campaign because if the ads were attached to a stronger message, the attempts to improve brand awareness might have been more tolerable. From my perception, Bmobile’s message seems to be that they have the ability to connect people to the technology that impacts every aspect of our lives, therefore “Life is on.” The problem is that life has been “on” for years, total connectivity is nothing new. The true brand message should lie in why customers should choose their company over the competitors.
Style over Substance
Creative Strategist Dexter Musgrave once said that “True branding starts from the inside out, not the outside in. Brands that don’t understand this will always come up short in the authenticity column.” While Bmobile have made a statement with their appearance, it seems that the products and services are more or less the same. The newest addition to their arsenal is the 4G LTE network which is only functional in a few areas of Trinidad, so it seems a bit unfair to promote it to the entire country. Other than that, I haven’t seen any changes in their approach nor the services offered. So for now, it just seems like they have opted for appearance over performance as they have done a lot of work on their appearance, and very little work on actually improving or changing their services. As this may be a more lengthy process, it may happen over time so it is yet to be seen.
To borrow a quote from Dexter Musgrave again “Great campaigns don’t just communicate a product on a features level, they communicate on a human level.” The campaign seems to focus on the company’s ability to provide connectivity, but places little emphasis on what this connectivity means to their audience. To be fair some ads did achieve this, but generally speaking, the audience has little to no reason to be emotionally connected to the campaign. Some may argue that functionality is more important than an emotional connection, but in an industry where there are multiple competitors providing similar services, telling them about a function that the others offer simply won’t be enough to sway them. It would be more effective to identify how the service is differentiated by providing you with a service that connects with the audience emotionally.
No target audience
No one can dispute the power of casting a wide net, but like Edward Felten says “the problem – when you cast your net that wide – is you inevitably catch something you don’t want to catch.” Marketers especially understand the importance of identifying your target audience before starting a promotion. Finding your target audience will determine what mediums you use when you advertise, where and when to advertise and how to restructure your services to best suit them so you can maximize your resources. While the ambitious mobile provider may seek to attract as much people as they can, they need to consider if these methods would actually be effective in attracting everyone. They may have issues by attracting customers they may not view as ideal customers or they could detract existing customers with their mixed messages as persons may feel like the brand does not align with their beliefs.
Despite the issues with the campaign, there are some positive aspects to it. A rebranding campaign is exactly what they needed, especially with so many competitors around. Having a fresh new visual appeal can make Bmobile feel like it’s something new again. The mere scope of it also stamped their authority as being a relevant and dominant force in the industry. They also showed the practical uses of their range of products, which is something that a lot of campaigns don’t do. However, after seeing award-winning campaigns such as “No Words” or “What u Wanna Be”, makes me feel like they dropped the ball on this particular campaign, but who knows, maybe this is all part of their strategic masterplan that will see Bmobile rise to dominance once again in the future. For now, it’s a bit difficult to discern the effectiveness of such a dim campaign. Maybe life isn’t as on as they would like to think.