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Telecom rebrands as Spark: the nuts-and-bolts; the ad men's verdict

Telecom New Zealand officially became Spark New Zealand today in one of the biggest rebranding operations ever undertaken in New Zealand.

The name change, backed by a $20 million budget, will also see the company's four main divisions get new titles:

  • Telecom Retail has become Spark Home, Mobile and Business. It operates under the Spark and Spark Business brands.
  • Gen-i has become Spark Digital
  • Telecom Wholesale has become Spark Wholesale.
  • Telecom Digital Ventures becomes Spark Ventures 

A number of business units and brands are not getting a Spark makeover. Those staying the same include

  • Revera
  • AppServ (business cloud services)
  • Skinny (mobile)
  • Bigpipe (broadband)
  • Qrious (data analytics)
  • Lightbox (Internet TV)
  • Telecom New Zealand International.

Telecom's NZX ticker has changed from TEL to SPK.

It's home page URL is now www.spark.co.nz. Existing URLs are set to edirect, so for example if you head for MyTelecom your web browser will automatically send you to www.spark.co.nz/myspark.

The company says it's changing its name to underline that it's become far more than a phone company.

At a PRINZ-sponsored event on Tuesday night, Telecom GM of home, mobile & business, Jason Paris said it also had to shake off negative perceptions around "Telecom" especially among competitors' customers who perceived the brand as old, white and male, monopolistic and only innovating when forced to by competition — despite the more nimble approach and plethora of new services introduced since the Chorus spin-off (see more of Mr Paris' comments in his "Ask Me Anyting" session with NBR readers here).

Mr Paris says today is the start of many months of rebranding but the first six weeks will be the most significant.

He says Telecom retail stores will be rebranded over the next six months but mass market retail changes will unfurl right up until February next year.

This will be supported by advertising across TV, radio, outdoor including billboards and with a particular focus on social and digital.

Mr Paris says one of Spark’s five “pillars” is to reward existing customers. Today Spark revealed a discount movie ticket deal with Event Cinemas. Rival Vodafone has already introduced a Fantastic Fridays promotion that includes movie discounts among other incentives.

Advertising guru David Walden says he was sceptical when the rebrand was announced but that, over time, Telecom has backed up the change with detail and he “gets it” now.

“They have explained they are much more than a telco and need a name that reflects that.”

He says that for the past 20 years the company has been trying to shake off its old outdated persona and pulling together its several brands under one name is sensible.

Colenso BBDO creative chairman Nick Worthington says the spark logo has been a symbol of the evolution and the name “Telecom” won’t be missed.

“I like the potential for simplification. If Spark brings together the rest of the organisation [such as Gen-i]... under one name, that has to be easier for customers to get their heads around.”

More by Campbell Gibson

Comments and questions
7

No matter what you think of the name, the change over to the new brand must be one of the best in history. I didn't see one Telecom sign on the way to work and that included shops, the head office, phone booths and even the staff ID cards I spotted on the way. Telecom who ?

Thanks Teldar. Great to get your feedback. There's been a heap of people working on the change and I think they've done a great job too. I'm sure there will be a few old Telecom things in dairy windows etc for a while yet but as far as I'm concerned I'm excited about the change to Spark. Its great to see change and great to be part of a company that has renewed its dedication to New Zealand and seeing kiwis thrive using digital tech. ^Julie

I'm also impressed with the speed of the rollout - even down to Spot manning the old @TelecomNZ twitter account.

One of the best rebrands I have seen, got on the internet this morning and all of the spark content was awesome, ph boxes, shops, and the stuff I received in the mail were done well! Well done Spark!

Rebrand very well executed from what I have seen.

New era, new directions and driving forward using the windscreen for vision rather than the rear vision mirror..

Great job Sparks from woe to go. Like Teldar I haven't seen a Telecom sign while l driving around the city.

It takes guts in my humble opinion to make a major rebrand commitment.

A company that has the guts to do so and execute it so well not only gains ones respect but also places them on a watch list as a potential company to invest in.

Hopefully to become the All Blacks of the NZ business world.

Don't mention the massive Downtown Shopping Centre billboards that were missed!

Serious flaw in the re-branding. I saw all this Spark stuff but nowhere did it tell me what Spark is. For the masses in NZ not following media reports about the re-branding how the hell are they supposed to know what Spark is?
Are you forgetting the KISS principle? You may do this huge roll-out but yet you're not talking to the people you want to convert, instead you're justifying this huge marketing spend to your investors.