There’s substance behind the Spark, says Telecom’s Jason Paris

Just as the intertubes lit up with opinions when Telecom launched its new logo back in 2009, so the intertubes are again abuzz with today’s news that Telecom was planning on changing its name change to Spark. Here’s what chief operating officer Jason Paris had to say about it. 

“It’s bloody exciting. I’ve been thinking about this since I started, but it’s happened a lot faster than I expected. We’ve got so much momentum at the moment.” 

He says the recent business results (a flat net profit after tax of NZ$167 million for the half year ending 31 December 2013), the addition of 200,000 new mobile customers and consumers’ overwhelmingly positive response to the new propositions and new look after the brand refresh in October proved that it had the momentum required to make this change.  

But if there was so much momentum, was an expensive name change even necessary? 

Telecom wasn’t reflective of what we have planned for the business strategically … Telecom is an iconic brand, it’s been around for years and it’s served us well, but it’s not who we’re becoming.”

He admits it’s a big call to step away from an established brand and all the equity it has, but he’s confident Spark can gain momentum quickly with existing Telecom customers “and those who aren’t with us” when it launches. 

“We’re confident the new name won’t alienate anyone and we think it will build on the Telecom legacy … We’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming out. We’re transforming ourselves into a very different business. It’s not a name change, it’s a business change. There’s no point in coming out and saying ‘we’re Spark’ without having any substance behind that.”

While the work on Telecom’s spark logo was done by Designworks, the work on the new brand was done by Interbrand New Zealand, led by James Bickford, and Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide, led by Derek Lockwood. 

There will obviously be quite a few agencies and suppliers licking their lips at the thought of a rebrand of this scale and while Paris wouldn’t give an exact figure on how much it will cost, he says the $20 million figure being bandied about is about right.  

He says Spark will be going to market very differently than Telecom, something ex-general manager of brand, communications and digital ​Kellie Nathan discussed when we chatted with her a few months back. 

“Increasingly, consumers are saying they want experiences, not advertising, he says. It will also focus on content-led communications, with its existing partners Saatchi & Saatchi, Dynamo, Rapp, Touch/Cast and Consortium helping to roll it out. 

Its IPTV play ShowMe TV, which is being launched by Telecom Digital Ventures (soon-to-be called Spark Ventures), is open to all New Zealanders, not just Telecom customers, he says. Telecom recently cut its ties with Sky and, just like Skinny Mobile and its new naked, uncapped broadband service Big Pipe, ShowMe TV will have its own brand. 

He says it did look internationally at other telcos that are succeeding as content providers, but it also looked locally to see “what was resonating with New Zealanders”. 

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