The Making of Telkom Kenya’s New Brand Identity: Interview With Marketing Head Levi Nyakundi

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Mr Levi Nyakundi_Chief Marketing Officer for Telkom Kenya
Mr Levi Nyakundi_Chief Marketing Officer at Telkom Kenya
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A few days ago, we had a chat with Mr. Levi Nyakundi who serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at Telkom Kenya in a bid to understand the dynamics and processes that were behind the mobile carrier’s rebrand that took place a couple of months ago.

Ideally, Telkom Kenya is a household name in the country, and since the inception of Safaricom and Airtel in the 2000s, the carrier’s plan was to have an edge in mobile services. Approximately 9 years ago, French multinational telecoms corporation Orange ventured into the Kenyan market, among other Anglophone states, and took over Telkom’s infrastructure in a bid to boost the service’s offerings. During its stint as Orange Kenya, the did not successfully own a market that had already established players.

Indeed, it certainly appears that Orange’s lifespan in the country was short-lived when it announced that it was exiting its operation in the country in June 2015. That marked the start of Telkom’s brand transformation, and the corporation signed an agreement in July 2016 that advised on using the Orange brand for a year. The process was, according to Mr. Nyakundi, motivated by brand power to keep customers loyal to the Telkom brand and its commitment to focus on taking the necessary risks to better sales and growth. The intricacies of the process can be found in this post.

Motivation Behind Rebrand

That said, Mr. Levi Nyakundi states that it is an open secret that Kenyan consumers are altering their spending habits on mobile services. “In a growing economy like ours that features a significant number of young people who own internet-enabled devices, data has become a critical product for Telkom Kenya, this assertion can be manifested via several data offerings that Telkom Kenya for its customer base,” adds Levi Nyakundi.

The rebranding process employed a robust market research that was done by multiple teams, which were tasked with understanding Kenya’s mobile phone use trends and expectations from a telecoms perspective. Primarily, data gathered by these groups was critical in fabricating a rebrand that embodies the aspirations of a Kenyan consumer. Also, market research offered a platform for the telco to position itself in the mobile services game by making the Telkom Kenya a more believable, relevant and unique.

In IT world where every brand or product is allegedly ‘industry-leading,’ building a brand that resonates and differentiates itself from the competition is challenging and time-consuming. It is more of a promise and something you live every passing day. What is more, it has to be defendable and articulate the experience of a user would have when they engage with an operator. It is for these reasons that Telkom decided to keep the name (from Telkom Kenya, Orange and back to Telkom Kenya) after ascertaining its edge over peers.

The transition followed a three-way strategy that sought to give the brand a modern facelift, with a youthful approach (not to be confused with the idea that it is meant for the young demographic). As mentioned, the brand had to keep the Telkom Kenya moniker.

According to Mr. Nyakundi, the values of the brand are centered around innovation where the company offers multiple products and propositions in a relevant way (that involves its core service, data), trustworthiness because it is ethical to embrace transparency in business, dynamism because Telkom must keep moving with additional zeal to serve Kenyans, as well as quality and reliable services.

Symbolism Behind the Telkom Logo and Colours

In some way, the telecoms operator managed to embed these values in its logo. This is because a logo is a very important aspect of Telkom’s identity since in most cases, it is the first thing that attracts people to a company. Therefore, it was their task to make sure that it adopted modern design elements with minimalism in mind because excess design may confuse customers.

Based on the explanation given by Mr. Nyakundi, they decided to pick white custom fonts because of white, generally speaking, is a universally approachable colour – which, in this case, symbolizes the operator’s openness to customers. Secondly, a keen look at the fonts reveals a slight forward slant that expresses Telkom’s dynamism and a forward-moving approach to executing its processes.

“We want to espouse our legacy by drawing inspiration from our past and heritage. However, our primary focus is in the future, a process that is emphasized on our motto, Moving with You,” says Mr. Nyakundi.

Looking at the K, the backward arrow represents the inspiration the operator draws from its past, but the central mandate of the corporation is centered on what the future holds, which is why double forward-facing arrows are used. And why are they yellow? Well, because yellow goes in line with vibrancy, and the sun.

telkom-kenya-logoHow about the sky blue colour? Well, Kenya is a green country, and they could not use it for obvious reasons. It also turns out the clarity of water, which appears blue from afar, and the sky – both of which are observed in different parts of the country, have not been executed in any local telecoms logo. Also, Telkom asserts that these two aspects are hardly celebrated, which is why the sky blue colour made a cut in the logo. People also tend to trust blue based on market research, apparently.

Core Services

Mr. Levi Nyakundi did mention that Telkom Kenya is concentrating on having the edge over the competition with data services. Truthfully, this is an area that needs a lot of work thanks to hundreds of complaints that feature in various social media pages and a lax customer care department (more of that in a moment). Customers would love to see a robust approach that addresses these issues.

On the bright side of things, Telkom concluded the first phase of its KES 5-billion project that aims to boost the services of its national backbone and metropolitan transmission networks. In a nutshell, Phase 1, which cost up to KES 600 million, will deliver triple backup features, as well as improved service experience and extended reach for customers. This means that Telkom Kenya will be providing high-speed data for local and international service providers.

How about customer service?

As mentioned, data is one of the core services for Telkom Kenya, and in a bid to appeal to the tech-savvy demographic, the operator has appealing data rates. The problem is that high-speed coverage has not been expanded to more areas, and parts with LTE do not register service, especially in rainy spells. In fact, the telco is yet to give details about last week’s data outage. Collectively, these are some of the frustrating issues that take users to social media pages to vent, and the situation is often aggravated by customer care representatives who fail to offer satisfactory explanations.

Mr. Levi acknowledges that Telkom is aware of these setbacks, and in a market where customers are expecting more, it is imperative that the carrier changes how matters are tackled. This is work in progress.

In conclusion

“So far, the journey bears what we wanted to do, and there is a healthy growth on our end to back up these assertions,” adds Mr. Levi.

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