The case of the disappearing telco: Telecom readies itself for the big Spark switch

Telecom and Designworks unveiled Telecom’s new spark logo in 2009, and the move to fully rebrand as Spark—and change the orientation of the business from home phones and dumb pipes to a technology company and business enabler—has been out in the open for a few months. But now it actually has to make the change, and it’s taken the first, very symbolic step by removing a few letters from its HQ in Auckland. 

Telecom has been promoting its $20 million rebrand in a number of ways, including what are ostensibly outdoor versions of its Spark Should website, which took a leaf out of Z’s book and asked consumers for suggestions on what was wrong and what to fix. It’s also been running a social campaign around the idea of the #SparkTimeCapsule, which aims to show how far technology has come in recent years and it’s also getting warmed up for the major Spark launch activity via Saatchi & Saatchi this weekend with a teaser Adshel campaign

To the uninitiated, it might not seem like a big decision to change the name of a business, but it’s a huge logistic exercise to switch almost everything attached to a brand as big as Telecom. When Bellsouth changed to Vodafone in 1998, which many regard as one of the country’s most successful rebrands, it was an almost overnight switch (although it was a lot smaller than Telecom is now). And while that won’t quite be the case for Telecom, everything will be mostly gone by Friday. 

In a release, general manager home, mobile and business Jason Paris said the task was indeed a big one, but there was a solid plan in place that would see Telecom replaced with Spark over the coming weeks. 

“A large portion of the work will take place overnight on, or by, Friday. This includes changing out the storefront of all 71 of Telecom’s retail stores and 29 Business Hubs, erecting Spark branding on the flagship buildings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and other regional locations, and putting the Spark brand on 150 of the most-used phone boxes around the country. Telecom branding will also change out in 400 ‘partner stores’ such as JB Hi-Fi, and in 190 Countdown supermarkets on Friday.” 

The remaining phone boxes will be rebranded by the end of October, and Telecom signs and branding in around 8,000 dairies, service stations and other third party locations will be replaced with new Spark signs by the end of August. Telecom and Gen-i vehicles will switch to the Spark and Spark Digital branding by early September.

The rebrand is not limited to physical assets, however. Telecom also has more than 100 online systems that will change over to Spark on or after Friday. These include the Telecom website, which will switch over to www.spark.co.nz and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter (it’s YouTube channel has already made the switch and it has a Facebook page called Spark4NZ). 

Claire Barber, general manager of change and technology, says that where possible, the system changes were being staggered to minimise any issues, and the business had a robust business continuity process in place. 

“We have a team in place who will be monitoring the systems closely so that should there be any teething problems we’ll be ready to sort them out as quickly as possible.”

Transforming in to Spark: the numbers

  • 3 public-facing websites
  • 29 Business Hubs
  • 71 Stores
  • 100 online system changes
  • 135 vehicles
  • 186 exterior building signs
  • 197 supermarket locations
  • 400 partners stores (eg JB Hi-Fi)
  • 2,700 phone boxes
  • 8,000 signs in dairies, service stations etc

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