Review: Telstra Brand Identity
Title: Brand Identity
Agency: Internal / Interbrand
We usually review mere trifles when it comes to the advertising section – adventurous outdoor campaigns, goofy TVCs – but occasionally a big kahuna makes a change and it bears considering. The heavyweight champion of the Australian telcos has just launched its new brand identity and it’s precisely the direction a blue-chip corp should go for: commanding.
Telstra’s new look is being delivered in full-page newspaper ads, TVCs and digitally and we’ve gotta say it’s not too heavy, not too light – it’s just right. Even Tim Burrowes at Mumbrella seems positive! Although a “senior brand design specialist” quoted by The Australian was less impressed. Screw him. This was an enormously fraught venture and, initially at least, it works.
First things first, we’re delighted that they didn’t fuck with the logo. The temptation recently has been to smooth and round out every logo into a glossy button, possibly to make it friendlier. It might just be luck that Telstra was a pioneer of this trend so its logo is still fine – it just comes in six colour combinations now.
And the colours are the predominant change. At $3 million, it might be a pricey candy-coating but this is important. Telstra has long been at risk of relying on an aging (and expiring) customer base who are clinging onto rotary phones and may soon learn that there are other providers. And they’re at constant risk of legal action removing their monopoly on the infrastructure. With this bright, bold colour change, Telstra is now at risk of being perceived as funky and appealing.
Since it’s the 500-pound gorilla in the telco market, it can basically co-opt every colour scheme, regardless of whether it has been claimed by anyone else (one of the new spectra looks very much like BP‘s choice). Now every primary colour is a Telstra colour. If they desire, the six new colour schemes can be utilised to specify different products, from mobile to internet to pay TV to home phone, since Telstra is the only one to offer it all.
Telstra has picked a mix of audacious orange, magenta, purple and green schemes alongside sober blue and turquoise schemes for the serious business of corporate. This means that all of the markets and segments Telstra covers – from grannies coveting their fixed line to iPad-toting hipsters – get a look that is attractive and trustworthy. With the colours fanned out strongly, Telstra will never be confused with the tackiness of Dodo or the blandness of Vodafone or the wishy-washy zoological themes of Optus.
These are the companies whose customers Telstra needs to poach. It is seen as your tech-oblivious mum’s telco; the provider that people are with because they couldn’t be bothered changing. The dazzling refractions, coupled with the smooth, futuristic Gravur Condensed typeface is just the freshening up it needed to appeal to the kids in a hugely competitive market.
It’s risky for a behemoth like Telstra to try to appeal to the youngsters without coming off like a drunk uncle dancing at a barbie. So its “Wowee! We’re hip to your interconnected world!” copy is a little on the nose. The example on its site and in print is that the world is so different now: “You can buy flowers online, then smell them for real minutes later”. But seriously, if the florist was “minutes” away, why would bother Googling it?
Regardless, there’s a pleasing sense of wonder in the new copy, which is as optimistic as the rich, friendly new colour scheme. It’s an enormous ask for Telstra to become “Australia’s Best Loved Brand”, as CEO David Thodey declared as his ultimate intent in an internal email. But this first work from its new marketing head Mark Buckman (ex-CommBank) and DDB’s Interbrand unit is rock-solid. It’s steady enough not to upset the applecart and daring enough to get us glowing a little bit.