Understanding Vodafone-Idea Rebranding as Vi: Earlier this month ‘Vodafone Idea Ltd’, the resultant of a merger between Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd. in 2018 rebranded itself as ‘Vi’ (read as ‘we’). With so much competition going on in the Indian telecom market, analysts were expecting Vodafone-Idea’s management to take some drastic steps. Vodafone-Idea needed some steps to fight back Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel to grow its customers and margin.
Today, we take a look at the reasons behind the Vodafone-Idea rebranding as Vi, and the possible future of Vi.
‘Vi’ – Vodafone-Idea Rebranding: Why it was done? & Reactions?
Rebranding is a market strategy where a new name, symbol, or change in design is done for an already-established brand in order to create a new corporate image for the organization.
In the case of Vi, such reactive rebranding was done to mark the final step towards the integration of the two brands, three years after the news of the merger was first announced. Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd were two brands that came together to survive the disruptions in the telecom industry post the introduction of Jio.
The rebranding luckily created a lot of social media buzz. But, not all were in favor of Vi with even Jio entering the fun.
It is clear that Vi now wants to be seen as a competitor and not just a survivor like its parent companies. But rebranding is an expensive affair and comes with added risks. When Snapdeal had created a new identity in 2016, the company spent close to 200 crores. When BP changed its logo to a Helios flower it cost the company $211 million.
In 2010 Zain, a telecom company was acquired by Airtel and renamed to Airtel Kenya. But unfortunately, the brand has undergone multiple rebrandings in the past. Starting from Kencel to Celtel in 2004, then to Zain in 2008 and finally Airtel Kenya. This brand change resulted in confused customers.
Although this cost seems excessive for a simple name change it is necessary as building awareness for a new brand in consumer minds is not easy. This includes multiple costs apart from market research. An actual implementation includes changing the signage on buildings, company letterheads, websites, and name tags. And also putting up advertisements to let the consumers know about the rebranding.
Plans post ‘Vi’ Vodafone-Idea Rebranding
Things finally started going their way when the company finally received the much-needed relief where the nation’s apex court granted 10 years to pay the billions it owes to the government. The first step that the company is likely to take will be raising funds in order to meet its immediate operating expenses, government dues, interest payments, etc. The company plans to do this by issuing convertible bonds. The hybrid bonds will have tenures of around 10 years.
Once this is done the immediate focus of the company will be on improving its ARPU’s (Average Revenue Per User). Unfortunately for Vi, they currently have one of the lowest ARPU in the industry in comparison to Airtel and Jio. This is important because in order for the firm to achieve a cash flow breakeven it will need to generate double the ARPU’s it currently has.
In addition to this, the company will have to focus on retaining its falling active subscriber base. Vodafone Idea in the last few years has lost close to 100 million subscribers to new entrant Jio. One of the major reasons for this fall is the lack of exposure to the 4G network.
This is bound to affect retention as its competitors are currently preparing themselves for 5G networks. Once its operational efficiencies are improved the next round of financing is expected to come from equities which can be utilized to further strengthen its position in the industry.
After Vodafone-Idea rebranding as Vi, they have also started offering many attractive deals and plans, which are somewhat similar or better than their competitors.
Although Vodafone Idea has rebranded itself to Vi in search of a fresh start, however, only time will tell about the effectiveness of the new brand. Luckily for Vi, if everything goes in its favor, it will be viewed as the underdog that rose to compete, instead of being viewed as two loss-making entities that came together for survival.
Aron, Bachelors in Commerce from Mangalore University, entered the world of Equity research to explore his interests in financial markets. Outside of work, you can catch him binging on a show, supporting RCB, and dreaming of visiting Kasol soon. He also believes that eating kid’s ice-cream is the best way to teach them taxes.