Twenty years after Wolff Olins created the original brand, we pitched and won the opportunity to do it all over again. We talked to people in France, Spain, Senegal and Poland – places where Orange and their competitors have been growing their businesses – and they told us clearly: telcos aren’t listening.

Listening is how we understand people, and a digital world thrives when it builds on our ability to listen. We explored what that means, speaking to nurses and researchers, clinical psychologists and aid facilitators.

Prototyping a listening experience
We crafted a set of principles that explained the kind of experiences a ‘listening company’ could create. We designed ‘trigger’ moments for customers and employees, and took to the streets with a 3D-printed orange box to gather insights for our prototypes.

“You kept us focused, created energy, and built the confidence that brought the rest of the business along.”

Daniel Keller, Former Director of Global Brand Strategy, Orange

A new offer and expression
We worked closely with Orange’s brand, marketing, product, digital and retail teams to transform how they present their offer. The architecture started with six themes, identified in research as true essentials: home, work, money, wellbeing, fun and family. These helped broaden the conversation with customers, shifting the focus away from product features and price.

As a result of this thinking, the brand needed to express itself differently. We developed a system that shows it is listening to what’s essential and responding to people’s changing lives.

“This brand brings the power of the network to the surface.  Orange now supports and enhances the most important parts of customers’ lives.”

Pierre-Antoine Arlot, Programme Director

Inspiring change from within
With strategy, expression and prototypes in hand, we needed to help 170,000 employees become brilliant at listening. To inspire change, we designed a culture that could grow and support systemic shift across 33 countries.

We piloted the work in two of Orange’s major markets: Poland and Spain, working with teams on the ground to understand unique needs. We generated ideas through workshops, built an online sharing platform, and developed a brand champions program to galvanise a generation of trainers.

Beyond this, we worked with the CEO’s executive committee to figure out how the brand’s ambition could amplify the corporate strategy.

The first telco of the internet age
The revamped brand put its people and technology in touch with the everyday needs of individuals. The response of the business leaders in France, Spain and Poland was positive and action was swift. Customers overwhelmingly approved of the new proposition, and it received recognition from global research company, Ipsos.

“This brand is customer centricity at its best.”

Ipsos qualitative research, 2014

In 2013, Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard set the company on its new trajectory to be “the first telco of the internet age.” We are immensely proud to have been a part of that journey.

Working closely with Telia’s senior leaders, we approached the brand in a way that would help transform the business from the inside out.

To ensure it would work across diverse markets, we worked with teams in key countries. We piloted the identity in Estonia in January 2016 and considerably improved perceptions, putting Telia alongside YouTube and Facebook as one of the country’s top 10 most loved brands within weeks of launch.

Pebbles with pop
From the start, we put customers at the centre of the experience. We worked as a cross-discipline team of UX, front-end developers, 3D and 2D animators, strategists and designers, working directly in code to test concepts quickly.

This brand was designed to work in a customer’s hand – on their watch, mobile, tablet and TV. The pebble is its defining icon. It has a ripple of bright colours and as every customer is unique, so every pebble is different. Built in 3D and designed to move, it can be replicated in a range of software environments, and helped define a typeface.

The system is adaptable and encourages creative interpretation. Overall, it’s a positive and colourful expression for a new generation telco.

 

“The brand is vibrant, exciting and signifies the change we aimed to create. People are surprised how much it influences them”

Anne Gro Gulla, VP & Head of Brands, Telia Company

Flipping a code of conduct
After our initial work, we were briefed to engage 26,000 employees over 13 countries in a code of conduct – a challenging task, and a test of the new creative expression.

For some, a corporate code of conduct might be a box ticking exercise. For Telia, it was an opportunity to nurture an internal culture based on responsibility and positivity.

The power of ‘don’t’
This was an opportunity to do something unexpected. Our tongue-in-cheek animations explained what not to do in a tongue-in-cheek way. To make sure content was surprising but not offensive, we tested concepts with staff and ensured copy was caring, rather than dictatorial.

We produced the code in the form of a broadsheet newspaper, alongside a website. To support the launch we created posters, event roll-ups, collateral featuring the new characters and a teaser game. The engagement was impressive. In the first 8 weeks, 20,000 staff had viewed the code. The work was also a finalist in the Fast Company Innovation by Design awards, and won a D&AD Pencil.

“Wolff Olins had a unique take on a common business brief. This has engaged the whole organisation.”

Mahsa Sina, Ethics and Compliance Officer, Telia

Everything Everywhere were the company behind two strong brands: Orange and T-Mobile. With a combined 23 million UK customers, they were the dominant player in a market that had become static and entrenched, with competition hanging around price.

Change was on the horizon. New waves of mobile technology were making life easier for the tech-savvy, who had adapted to new devices and were now ready to see what was possible with a faster network. Meanwhile, many others were left stranded in the wake of advances, aware of new possibilities but unable to make full use of them.

The big players were failing to do much for either group. But in the summer of 2012, Everything Everywhere would be opening the UK’s first 4G network, which meant a huge opportunity to change the market for good.

Down to business from the start
Everything Everywhere asked us what a third, all-new, game-changing brand could do for Britain. There was no real pitch, and instead, a series of working sessions in which we built the business case for this new brand. With a collaborative, cross-functional team in place – and senior engagement from the offset – we made quick strides to achieve sign-off and the ‘no pitch’ mentality shaped the relationship on the project.

A central idea
Together, we created EE: a brand to help you do things you couldn’t do before. The central idea became, ‘Now You Can’.

This helped drive major investments into the UK’s first ever 4G network, as well as fibre broadband and film. ‘Now You Can’ inspired a new way to serve customers on the high street, on the phone and, most importantly for the new brand, online. It was an idea that spoke powerfully to people who were technological ‘haves’, as well as the tech ‘have-nots’.

“The process of change wasn’t a linear one. We were constantly reacting, standing back and recalibrating”

Chris Moody, Chief Design Officer, Wolff Olins

The brand idea was supported by a creative expression that focussed around the benefits of a network. A system of particles formed and re-formed to bring messages to life, and the tone of voice was both playful and purposeful.

A co-ordinated launch
Launch year was huge. As 4G was being turned on in 11 cities across the UK, more than 700 stores became EE branded overnight. In co-ordinating more than 20 partner agencies, we saw the value in setting out clear roles, relationships and responsibilities early on. Our close working relationship with the client and the partner agencies helped us find solutions quickly, and EE were eight times as productive as usual.

 

“A truly momentous journey and we could not have done it without you. We have landed in a very good place.”

Steven Day, Chief Marketing Officer, EE

Far-reaching impact
EE achieved their goal of a million 4G customers by September 2013, beating the target by three months. And 4GEE is already helping people do more with their technology: 42% more customers download apps on the go, 37% of customers use less or no public Wi Fi, and 26% of customers use mobile banking services.

The new brand has proved compelling to partners: EE were able to secure exciting and exclusive new devices for launch, as well as being the UK’s first and only 4G network ready for the iPhone 5. They’ve recently pledged to help build the digital skills of one million people through a series of new initiatives, making good on their promise that ‘Now You Can’.

Skype were a rare kind of business when we met them in 2009 – they had 100 million users but were yet to turn a profit. They were a phenomenon, founded on an amazing product, and growing fast. They needed to get ready for a possible IPO in a way that preserved their spirit.

Their ever-widening range of products and features posed a challenge. They needed to make sense of the offer, in a way that would guide activity internally and drive revenue by helping users navigate beyond free video calls.

Together, apart
Up until now, Skype had viewed their role as ‘enabling the world’s conversations’. We saw a broader benefit: ‘doing things together, whenever you’re apart’. We developed a set of principles to guide product development and marketing activity: ‘Universal, Useful, Wonderful’.

“We needed to understand how to help customers make sense of our widening product set.”

Neil Stevens, Vice President and General Manager, Skype

A path to growth
By now Skype had a powerful, central idea and we were their trusted creative partner. We built a brand workbook and website, helped simplify the portfolio, and structured innovation for immediate results.

We didn’t just change the expression. We affected the way engineers built the product and the way sales charged for it. We also led the re-organization of Skype’s marketing function, establishing a clear and compelling role for this department in a previously product-focussed business. We even acted as Skype’s CMO for 6 months.

“Their work and thinking continue to sit at the heart of our business today.”

Neil Stevens, Vice President and General Manager, Skype

New hires were trained up quickly and growth continued. Over the duration of the project, Skype doubled their monthly active users, while also seeing a large increase in the activity of existing users

Shortly after our partnership, Microsoft bought the company for $8.6bn. We continued our partnership long after this sale, which you can read about in the Microsoft case study.