"Operators need to follow the famous philosophy of Warren Buffet- 'Buy the commodity, sell the brand'."

The month of February has been quite an interesting one with various exciting new developments in the region since the last day of January. Before January ended, EITC gave mobile customers in the UAE a huge surprise with the launch of Virgin Mobile UAE as a new brand. Given the legacy of Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, people in the country are looking forward to a great mobile experience and offers better than those by the existing telcos. In yet other news, Tesla made its foray into the Middle East with a star studded launch in Dubai during the World Government Summit, in the presence of founder Elon Musk, labelled variously as a ‘visionary’ and the ‘raddest man in the world’ across media.

If there’s one thing that’s common to the entrepreneurial geniuses like Elon Musk, and Richard Branson, it’s their excellent combination of novelty and niche positioning of their brands. By virtue of that, each of those brands struck the right chords with the public and got associated with a unique position which is hard to be captured by another market player. The unique brand positioning is something which operators in the region need to imbibe in their operations as well, in order to counter the decline across voice revenues, ARPU and profits. Once the brand message is so strong and all pervasive across the entire operations and workforce of the organisation, each employee becomes a brand advocate. And when the message is effectively translated in the form of innovative high quality services, each customer becomes a brand advertiser. Once that’s achieved, reducing customer churn will become much easier and profitability can be achieved.

The first step for operators in this direction is to put together a unique brand vision. Thereafter, they need to zero down on a strategy that can be effectively implemented. A harmonious matrimony of a great vision with an executable strategy is the key to profitability. Another essential component is customer and employee feedback; however, it’s worth noting that just the feedback is not enough unless remedial action follows next. There needs to be a consistent (not necessarily constant) engagement with the customers in order to understand their needs, changing preferences, and keep them informed about the brand’s new offerings. If a customer feels valued, there’s a higher chance of him/her being more loyal to the brand. Operators need to follow the famous philosophy of Warren Buffet- “Buy the commodity, sell the brand”.

Another thing to note is the current market scenario isn’t too enthusiastic about a product or service unless there’s a complete experience woven around it, that’s worth investing your bucks in. The popularity of Virgin Mobile is attributed majorly to the lifestyle experience that it packaged with mobile services. If StarBucks is being perceived to be more than a brand of coffee or Apple as much more than a mobile phone and laptop vendor, there’s a clear message out there for organisations.Market dynamics are more complex than ever before; and unfortunately, there’s no secret sauce for success. However, what comes as a close catch is a clever combination of strengthening a brand internally as well as making it visible and connected to its audience externally. The customer today is way too choosy; make sure they choose you over others always.