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How T-Mobile's CEO Obliterated Verizon's Own Brand Storytelling

Perhaps the T in T-Mobile really stands for Thunder.

How T-Mobile's CEO Obliterated Verizon's Own Brand Storytelling

Posted Wednesday October 07th, 2015 by in Analysis + Strategy.

September 2nd's logo change for Verizon came on the heels of Google's own logo update, marking the end-of -summer as the apparent time to relaunch corporate identities. While Google's swap came with a fantastic brand story and future brand promise, Verizon's fell prey to the storytelling abilities of its most outspoken competitor: T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

Check out what John said here.

I could use this sad example to expound the virtues of brand storytelling, or to talk about how public relations can work both for your brand and against your competitors, but instead let's boil this down to one simple notion: if you don't come onto the stage and tell your story loudly and proudly, someone else will steal your thunder.

Here's what Verizon said about its new logo.

Before we talk about the PR brilliance of John Legere, let's talk about brand storytelling in general. Just look at the difference between Verizon's unveiling and Google's reveal. Both occurred on company blogs, but each was written very differently - Google with colorful language and full of unique promises, and Verizon with a 'universal symbol for getting things done.' Google addressed your specific needs as a consumer, while Verizon held fast to the 'basic' level of 'simplicity, honesty and joy.' Not saying we don't all love a little joy in life, but where is the differentiation?

Now, let's talk about John. Normally outspoken, this is an individual whose company has gone for the jugular of its competitors in an admittedly cutthroat industry. How could Verizon not have known that any branding changes would come under fire? How could its agency have let John's commentary rise above its own brand storytelling? (In the days following the release, Googling 'Verizon logo change' brought you John's story on top of every Verizon communication).

On the contrary, what a brilliant move it was to jump on an opportunity when John, T-Mobile and his agency saw a chance. Acting quickly, staying on-brand (T-Mobile is notoriously naughty in its messaging), and addressing real differentiation factors (customer service is a real Verizon problem after all), are marks of a brand that is on-point in today's fast-moving world of PR and advertising.

Some brands might see this debacle as a paralyzing excuse to never rebrand. But that's not the point - in fact, let's give Verizon a lot of credit for evolving, given that it can be difficult for organizations that large (and traditional) to make positive change. But when making positive change, it's important to make sure the change is unique, the story is loud and clear, and the thunder stays within bounds. For now, I think we can give this win up to John; if you want to win the PR war, you should study his expertise in stealing Thunder, with a capital T.

Perhaps that's what the T in T-Mobile really means.


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