BT’s takeover of EE: the biggest brand challenge of 2015?
My prediction back in March 2013 that the EE brand was created to facilitate a sale of the business seems to be coming true, with BT the buyer and £12 billion the price tag. To re-cap, EE is the name of the UK joint venture between France Telecom's Orange brand and Deutche Telecom's T-Mobile brand. EE is also a 3rd consumer-facing brand, being used to launch 4G services in 2012.
So, into this already overly complicated brand bazar comes the a 4th brand in BT. What to do with this portfolio of brands could be the biggest brand challenge of 2015.
The big, bold move I'd like to see if a re-branding of the whole thing as BT Mobile. Here's why.
1.Make life simpler (for a change)
Using the BT brand would simplify everyone's life by replacing the EE, Orange and T-mobile brands with the BT brand. First, and most importantly, this would simplify choice for consumers. This is a relatively low interest market, with people caring much more about the mobile device itself. And we really don't need EE, Orange, T-Mobile, plus BT, on top of Vodafone, O2 and 3. Second, this would simplify things dramatically for the business, with only one single brand to manage.
2. Economies of scale
Billions of pounds of cost saving have been indentified for the "back office" of the merged BT and EE business. There is also a big opportunity for savings to be had by replacing EE, Orange and T-Mobile with BT. This would mean one ad campaign, one lot of direct marketing, one website etc.
3. Economies of ideas
Beyond the cost saving benefit, a single BT brand could also be the home for all the innovation and best thinking, rather than this being divided between multiple brands. This is already happening to some extent, with EE getting the sexiest innovation like 4G, and Orange and T-Mobile getting much less support.
BT would have one, single powerful brand to compete with Vodafone and O2, rather than the current three brands.
4. Making the quad play easier
A key rationale for the takover is to allow BT to have a "quad play" offer: TV, mobile, fixed line phone and mobile. This would be much easier to manage if the mobile brand was also BT.
5. The BT brand can stretch
A few years ago there might have been questions about the BT brand's ability to stretch into mobile, as it perhaps had a slightly out-dated feel to it. But this is not the case anymore I think, thanks to innovation like BT Inifinity superfast broadband, and the bold move into sports TV rights with BT Sport.
6. Its been done before
There is a great example of a mobile brand doing exactly what I recommend. Back in the 2000's France Telecom used Orange to replace three brands, Itineris, Mobicarte and Ola. This created a single, strong brand and generated siginificant cost savings.
In conclusion, there would be a great opportunity for BT to do what brands are supposed to do, which is to make it easier for conumers to buy quickly and confidently. This would simplify life for consumers and the company.