Over the last couple of years I’m hearing less about “image” and “branding” and more about “brand story”, “business voice” and “tone”. Truth be told, buzzwords like “story,” “tone” and “voice” are all elements that coherently work together with design to build your business identity and rather then ramble on about how you should do it and why, we’re going to take a look at some good working examples of business voices to see how it all fuses together.
Lets check out the first example with the 02 Branding
02 telecoms branding, design, story and voice.
In the late nineties Securicor and the BT Group created a subsidiary telecoms company called Cellnet and after a few years of re-branding and moving homes, the business finally came into its own in 2002 as the O2 brand. By 2005 it was purchased by Telefonica who retained the 02 name and began to grow the company as one of the UK’s leading mobile telecoms providers.
Since then 02 has always been in the forefront as a telecoms provider in the UK but unlike its competitors its branding has always been a little different.
O2 have a focus on quality as oppose to cheap pricing and unlike other telecom brands it radiated exclusivity and prestige, initially targeting a demographic of business users and their lifestyles.
The logo design is conservative with a clear b2b tone but coupled with elements of nature, water, bubbles and blue gradients the 02 identity design was able to ooze sophistication and produce something creative and classy for years to come.
One element that made 02’s branding standout was the ability to personify the business without a face but with a tone of voice instead. Every advert was voice-overed by actor “Sean bean” to reinforce the idea of a cool, calm, calculated and slightly serious persona which resembled their demographic of business users and go getters.
The change in voice
It’s pretty clear and obvious to anyone that the way we use telecoms has changed completely and so has the market. Devices which may have been exclusive to a business user before are now readily used by everyone and the lifestyle that was once exclusive to the business go getter is actually desirable by everyone today.
To adapt to the changes in lifestyle and target a new demographic 02 didn’t re-brand they just tweaked their marketing strategy instead by becoming funnier, more creative and warmer with their advertising. They even stated it in their adverts.
With each new advert, Sean Bean’s voice over became less serious gradually turning into a friendlier tone and what was once a business service targeting a majority of male users was now targeting a wider audience with an informal tone.
Today, O2 have moved away from the focus of technology and replaced it with humour. Whilst Sean Bean still makes his voice over at the end of adverts, we find a new voice and character to identify with being the man personifying the cat. It’s not any less classy, it’s just appealing to the other side of the target audience and maybe a little more.
The conclusion – It was never about telecoms.
By looking at all of 02’s branding and marketing we can see the focus was never on devices and not even communication but what you the buyer wants out of life. 02 is a telecoms brand that used story, tone and voice to target and sell users on the idea of a desirable lifestyle; a lifestyle with exclusive benefits that you can have with 02.