Case study: differentiating a brand through direct engagement

Carole Lowe and Jasmine Skee

Five years ago, a new telecoms brand was announced. Today it is the largest mobile brand in the UK, with over 18 million customers. Considering O2's short life, the damning expectations at launch and the incredible competition it has faced, this is no mean feat.

O2 set out to become the most 'enabling' brand in the marketplace, epitomised by its 'Can do' mantra, fresh-thinking attitude, and its values: bold, open, trusted and clear. Customers, not technology, were at the heart of the approach, and this has remained central to marketing strategy throughout the first five years of its life.

While other brands established an image through their brand, then used product offerings (bonus airtime, new tariffs, and so on) tactically to drive short-term sales, O2 had neither the time nor the resources to adopt such an approach. Instead, starting with a brand that epitomised 'enablement' and 'fresh thinking', products ran directly out of the brand and into communications. This created consumer-focused propositions of genuine interest and relevance that drove positive associations with the brand that carried through in advertising and in customer communications, always demonstrating the same high regard for customers that has stood O2 in such good stead.