A brand­ing case study: Te­lenor’s suc­cess in other coun­tries

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - text by Eric Baker

How do you lo­calise a global grand? There’s no one right an­swer, but Te­lenor Group has found a way given its suc­cess in 12 coun­tries, soon to be 13 given the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions in Myan­mar. You can ei­ther part­ner with a lo­cal com­pany, as Te­lenor did in Thai­land to cre­ate dtac, or you can cre­ate a lo­cal ver­sion of your com­pany, as it plans to do in Myan­mar. But cer­tain hall­marks must re­main the same. The Thai-Nor­we­gian Busi­ness Re­view in­ter­viewed Glenn Man­delid, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Te­lenor Group, to get a bet­ter idea of what is re­quired in over­seas brand­ing. “When you’re part­ner­ing with other share­hold­ers, you have to con­sider what the brand rep­re­sents glob­ally,” said Mr Man­delid. “You have to keep a com­mon set of work­ing val­ues, in­clud­ing easy ac­cess to top man­age­ment and an open work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. But above all, you have to un­der­stand the lo­cal cus­tomer.” For ex­am­ple, in Thai­land the mar­ket is quite dif­fer­ent than in Europe, he said. “Here it is all about top­ping up. It is the same men­tal­ity as buy­ing chew­ing gum at a con­ve­nience store. Thai­land is a pre­paid mar­ket and up un­til re­cently the fo­cus was on voice ser­vice. Now the fo­cus is on data, and your ad cam­paigns here have to be funny or emo­tional to work,” said Mr Man­delid. “We have a lot of sta­tis­tics that an­a­lyse con­sumers here, but our top man­age­ment also spends a lot of time in the mar­ket­place to meet cus­tomers and see what works, what doesn’t work, and what are the thresh­olds for buy­ing.” He added that for­eign own­er­ship doesn’t mat­ter to Thai cus­tomers, as most Thais would not even recog­nise the name Te­lenor. This is by de­sign, as lo­cals know only dtac or the Happy brand be­cause their con­cern is merely which brand gives them the qual­ity ser­vices at the best price. And while Te­lenor is very hands-off with dtac, let­ting them run their busi­ness, in Myan­mar Te­lenor will wholly own the tele­com busi­ness. Still, sev­eral el­e­ments will be sim­i­lar, said Mr Man­delid. “The graphic com­po­nents will re­main the same,” he said. “The logo, the font, the cor­po­rate brand­ing guide­lines— these will all be con­stant. But you have to al­low flex­i­bil­ity as well, such as the red smi­ley-face logo they have for the Happy brand.” So if Te­lenor is hands- off, how does it en­sure dtac rep­re­sents its brand in a proper man­ner? “We un­der­stand there needs to be a high de­gree of lo­cal­iza­tion, as one size def­i­nitely does not fit all in var­i­ous tele­com mar­kets,” said Mr Man­delid. “But our stake­hold­ers need to un­der­stand the value of what Te­lenor rep­re­sents. You have to build the com­pany cul­ture in a cer­tain way, and we be­lieve that starts with hir­ing the right em­ploy­ees.”

“Here it is all about top­ping up. It is the same men­tal­ity as buy­ing chew­ing gum at a con­ve­nience store. Thai­land is a pre­paid mar­ket and up un­til re­cently the fo­cus was on voice ser­vice. Now the fo­cus is on data, and your ad cam­paigns here have to be funny or emo­tional to work.”

Mr Man­delid said Te­lenor’s long-term com­mit­ment to its over­seas oper­a­tors was likely one of the fac­tors that con­vinced Myan­mar to grant it a tele­com op­er­at­ing li­cence. “We’ve been in Thai­land for over 10 years. When we en­tered Asia in 2000, all the large Western oper­a­tors were here.

But now only Vo­da­phone re­mains in In­dia, and Te­lenor is the only large op­er­a­tor in more than one mar­ket. Myan­mar will be our sixth mar­ket, along with Pak­istan, In­dia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thai­land,” he said. “In other words, our mes­sage is we’re here for the long haul, and we brand for the long haul.” He noted there are other as­pects that may have swayed Myan­mar. Te­lenor has stud­ies, as do most tele­com com­pa­nies, that there is a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween ac­cess to mo­bile tele­phony and data and in­creased eco­nomic growth. But the fi­nal em­pha­sis still needs to be on the cus­tomer, said Mr Man­delid. “Ev­ery­thing we do needs to be cus­tomer-cen­tric,” he said. “A cou­ple years back we had a brand­ing cam­paign that ‘Te­lenor is built for people’s needs’. We have to live up to that sen­ti­ment as it’s writ­ten on the back of all our busi­ness cards.” “I’m happy to be work­ing for a com­pany that ac­tu­ally in­ter­acts with people in their daily lives. There are a few big­ger com­pa­nies in Nor­way, but they sell oil and gas to re­tail­ers, not ex­pressly to cus­tomers. At Te­lenor we have a di­rect im­pact on cus­tomer’s lives.”

Glenn Man­delid

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