In what promises to be the biggest brand transformation in the telecom sector and one of the largest across the entire Indian consumer sector, the Hutch brand will make way for Vodafone on September 20. This follows the British telecom giant’s $10.9 billion acquisition of a 52 per cent stake in cellular operator Hutch-Essar in February. “This will be across 35 million subscribers and over four lakh outlets.
It will be a massive logistical exercise,” says Asim Ghosh, Managing Director, Vodafone Essar (Essar holds 33 per cent in the venture). The rebranding will also signal the exit of the Hong Kong-based Hutchison Group from India.
According to Ghosh, the brand transformation will now give the Indian entity access to Vodafone’s repertoire of products and services. Over the last six years, the brand of this cellular operator has witnessed several changes, particularly in the Mumbai circle; here, the brand was first Max Touch, then it became Orange, then Hutch, and now Vodafone. It is expected that a large part of the move to Vodafone will be completed in about four weeks.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first market in which Vodafone finds itself in the midst of a brand transformation. It’s happened in other countries, in a phased manner. Typically, Vodafone’s name was combined with that of the local partner. “We realised that we would be spending twice the kind of money if we did the same thing in India.
Besides, I don’t think it was really necessary for us to do something like that here,” rationalises Ghosh. Perhaps clubbing its brand with another global player (Hutch) didn’t quite make sense for Vodafone. For those who can’t forget the Hutch commercials, the good news is that the pug will stay. “We have adapted Vodafone’s templates to cater to local circumstances.
Therefore, there will not be a departure from what has worked for us,” says Harit Nagpal, Marketing & New Business Director, Vodafone Essar. “The key elements like having an emotional connect with the customer and a focus on Value-added Services (VAS) will remain,” says Ghosh.