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

Spark NZ managing director Simon Moutter and chairman Mark Verbiest in front of the NZX's Auckland stock ticker as their company starts trading as SPK
David Walden
Telecom's name change process prompted some good questions from customers ... an some that were, frankly, a little hopeful

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.”

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