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Where is the Bell brand going next?

bellnewimagesBell has been through some major changes over the past year, actually way too many to start counting. The reason I started writing this is because I walked into a Bell Store today and saw something I did not see before.  A clean approach to their advertising.

How did we get to today? Here’s a summary: Bell brought on George Cope, new CEO and President, who completely changed the look and feel of the company and asserted his “100-day plan” that had 5 key objectives: Improve Customer Service, Accelerate Wireless, Leverage Wireline Momentum, Invest in Broadband Networks & Services, and Achieve a Competitive Cost Structure… oh yes, and the not-talked-about 6th objective to streamline the organization. Cope said “Bell’s goal is clear: to be recognized by customers as Canada’s leading communications company. I look forward to leading a unified, re-energized organization focused on attaining that goal by delivering a better customer experience at every level”.

With the new clear focus on a definite deadline for results, news came that his 100-day plan included slashing 2,500 management positions, hopefully saving the re-energized organization $300 million a year. Cope stated: “It is always difficult to see colleagues depart, but these changes are absolutely necessary”.  But what does this actually mean though? Losing 6% of your management team is a pretty big chunk. Was it they were not needed or did not produce results? Or was it that the employees who were cut just did not fit in with the direction the new Bell was going?

All we do know is that soon after the 2,500 were cut, Cope said “It’s Been a Blast” to Frank and Gordon and sent them packing also. This came as a shock as most Canadians actually enjoyed hearing the ads and found the animated mascots somewhat entertaining.

However, we found out that there is life after all. Back in August Bell announced a new brand direction with pride and said “The new Bell brand underlines that we are moving forward as a company and as a service provider, with new services, a new strategy and a new goal. It’s a straightforward and customer-focused brand that directly supports the Bell team’s goal: To be recognized by customers as Canada’s leading communications company”.

The new logo and website was cleaner and easier to read. However, some confusion was around the slogan and the now non-existent blue highlighted “er” in the “Today just got Better”. Even Bell’s SVP Brand, Rick Seifeddine, spoke up by saying “We went with a team of the industry’s best, led by an elite trio of creative directors collaborating in a new and innovative client-agency model. We think the team’s work speaks for itself in terms of clarity, emotional connection, boldness – and strong support for our strategy to deliver a better customer experience. The Bell-ements are a fun and constructive way to put the Bell logo to work in every possible way.”

And everyday did get better, new services were offered, phones, rate plans, joint partnership with TELUS to build a 4G network by 2010. Things were really truly looking “better”. However, peaks and valleys… things took a turn for this new “customer-focused” company when the $52 billion takeover bid was officially terminated which had Bell execs saying we’re a “re-energized company” again.

With all this news Bell has certainly been busy rebuilding and taking on their dealers in a $200 million lawsuit against them. More importantly they are creating a brand that people love. One of the ways to get in front of your customers is to be where they are. On March 2nd Bell announced they will be taking over all 765 “The Source by Circuit City” stores… which I believe is an incredibly great move. The Source will operate independently from Bell, but they now have the opportunity to really market effectively and reach a new demographic with an expanded line-up.

According to George Cope the main reason for the acquisition was that it “supports Bell’s strategic imperatives to accelerate wireless and leverage momentum in wireline services like Bell TV, Bell Internet and Bell Home Phone”.

So today, as you can see by the image, Bell is taking the brand to a new clean look. The Bell logo is actually nowhere to be found on this ad and the only resemblance that it’s made by Bell is the cut-off “B” in the corner. Its fresh, fun and most importantly not confusing. I like the direction.

Here are a couple major questions to ask though:
How is the customer service?
Do you see Bell as “Canada’s leading communications company”?

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