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Telecom today, Spark tomorrow (or at least, in April)

Goodbye Telecom, hello Spark. The backlash has come sharp and fast, but while COO Jason Paris admits it’s a big call to step away from the Telecom legacy and all the equity that brand has, he’s confident Spark can gain momentum quickly.

telecom becomes spark?Paris told StopPress he’s confident Spark will get traction with existing and new customers.

“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 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.”

In a statement, Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter says: “Spark is a word that has life and energy, and links to the creativity of New Zealanders, the modern tech economy and our desire to enable our customers to thrive. It will carry with it our widely recognised logo, which is generally referred to as the ‘spark’.”

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. 

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. 

Predictably, the backlash has come sharp and fast. 

Idealog contributor and commentator Lance Wiggs aired his thoughts in a blog post

“The old name is strong, while the new one is appalling,” he wrote. “Telecom is a name rich in history, not all of it bad, and can be relied upon as a NZ institution to deliver a good service. Spark is a small thing that is liable to disappear very quickly.”

Wiggs reckons the rebranding is simply a distraction while Telecom undergoes a slow and painful transformation.

“The change happens on April 1, so there is a chance it’s all a joke. Please.”

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