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Vodacom's cautious rebrand signals Vodafone's stake in the African market

Posted by: Christopher Koller on April 08, 2011

by Christopher Koller and Marisa Holley

As brandchannel reports, Vodacom, one of South Africa's leading mobile carriers, recently launched an ambitious R200 million (US $39 million) rebranding exercise. The rebrand follows on the tails of Vodafone's 2009 acquisition of the Vodacom brand.

While the rebrand keeps the Vodacom name, the change from the blue and green color palatte and symbol to Vodafone¹s symbol and red logo color, signals a migration towards Vodafone.

So far, the rebrand has received much attention due to the kick off of an awareness building campaign. However, the question is if the cautious migration (which just stops short of rebranding Vodacom as Vodafone completely) best positions the entity strategically. Is the color and symbol switch likely to mitigate drop off in terms of brand identification, as well as market confusion for consumers? Our answer: not likely.

Overall, migrations are sensitive things. You need to respect the equity of the previous brands, but you also have new stakeholders to satisfy. This is clearly the case here. If you read behind the lines, the rebrand suggests that Vodafone (which traditionally adheres to a strictly monolithic brand architecture around the globe) is hesitant to sacrifice Vodacom's power and position in the marketplace. This makes sense given that Vodafone's presence in Africa is far smaller than Vodacom's. While the rebrand may not seem particularly bold, to ensure that Vodafone's future in Africa is secure in the years ahead, Vodafone may need to hang on to the Vodacom name just a little bit longer.

For now, Vodafone is playing is safe, in hopes that it can continue to increase brand affinity levels through the Vodacom name and keep customers, post-merge. However, the current activity and spend is only indicative of more to come. Indeed, don't be surprised if Vodafone launches a second phase rebrand in the near future, in which it bids the Vodacom name a final adieu.

Watch the video above to find out more about the project and to hear more of our commentary.

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