How smart will the MNOs be?
Not since the unveiling of the iconic ‘Geo’ logo has there been, to my eye, a local logo that has been as alluring or as striking. The KESC, despite their much improved operational efficiency, failed to electrify with ‘K-Electric’. Similarly, myself and many others have chided the once brand-savvy Mobilink for their off the mark rebranding exercise last year.
So the new logo, or more correctly, the new ambigram for Mobilink’s 3G service comes as a bit of a surprise. As with the Geo logo, the design capitalises intelligently on both the Urdu and English script and by coincidence also on the Urdu letter jeem – which is central to both. The word ‘Geo’ starting with and being depicted by the letter jeem as strongly implies the geographical diversity of the Geo channel as it implores the audience to (fully) ‘live’ their life. Mobilink’s ambigram also plays upon the letter jeem beautifully capturing the nuances of both the Urdu and English script.
Some have commented that the ambigram is copied… Even if it is, I truly like it all the same. This is because it so marvellously fits into the local cultural norms of communication in Pakistan. The communications ‘fit’ is explained far more eloquently than I can do by Faraz M. Hamidi whose The D’Hamidi Partnership designed the logo.
Other mobile network operators (MNOs) have also not wasted time in proclaiming the gains they made in the successfully conducted 3G and 4G auction. The clear auction winner was Zong which bid for and gained both a 3G and 4G license. It was hence very disappointing to see the winner take a Photoshop shortcut in the print ad they published the day after the auction. The image showing a man zooming along with great speed while supposedly surfing on Zong’s upcoming 4G offerings, was clearly taken from a French automobile show ad as quickly observed and verified by ProPakistani.
As 3G become available, we will of course see a lot more branding activity from MNOs. However, branding for 3G will not be as straightforward as the branding associated with the current second generation networks i.e. GPRS/EDGE networks which are largely based on simple price wars. First off, people need to be made aware of what 3G means in terms of increased mobile internet bandwidth. Ufone, for example, is offering free trial
3G services in both Lahore and Islamabad so that their mobile subscribers can experience high-bandwidth services like streaming mobile video and Google maps on mobile first hand.
The awareness drive must crucially be coupled with genuine quality of service once 3G becomes available commercially. Inevitably, speeds will vary with those that will be advertised especially as the load on network base stations increases with time.
The second challenge will be pricing for mobile data services as all 3G services will be highly data-centric. For the last three years, all MNOs have succeeded in bringing GPRS/EDGE usage from five percent of mobile subscriber base in 2012 to over 16% by end 2013 (Source: PTA) using a combination of affordable mobile internet data packages and awareness building initiatives. Consumers will have to brace themselves, however, to pay three to five times more for 3G compared to what they are paying for GPRS/EDGE data packages now.
Hence MNOs will certainly have to be expansive and cautious in their approach to 3G branding, with an element of the savvy. With respect to the latter, Mobilink, despite last year’s rebranding misfire, have scored the first bull’s eye with their post-auction campaign.
So Mobilink, aaiye jee…!
Yasmin Malik is associated with the UK’s Informa Telecoms & Media. firstname.lastname@example.org