Building Purpose Brands in Nigeria’s Telecoms Industry

With the growth in self-awareness and the imperative to steadily adapt to the stark realities of business – changing trends, intense rivalry, regulatory uncertainties, operators in Nigeria’s Telecoms industry are trying to be ahead of the game. They are recreating existing products, diversifying into new areas for which their capabilities and resources are transferable, improving on overall business processes and navigating through the regulatory landscape. However, much of these efforts have not followed any particular deliberate intention to create the right experiences for resolving the jobs that telecoms consumers in Nigeria are looking to get done each time they spend the money to purchase telecoms services. In other words, none of the operators have become clear purpose brands for any of the range of services or products they offer.

A purpose brand conveys to the consumer how the product or service being offered is designed to deliver a holistic and specific experience. A proper purpose brand is positioned in a manner that provides that compelling reason for consumers to purchase a product, in that the brand delivers by solving the challenges confronting the consumer. And when a brand is great at performing this task, what it gets in return is not just mere brand affection, but a case in which consumers embrace the brand into the fabric of their lives.

Instances of purpose brands abound in various industries. For instance, when consumers are thinking about a mobile device that will surely be easy to use as well as elegantly designed, they get assurance from the Apple brand. And if you need to furnish and get started quickly with an apartment you rented, you would be glad to have an IKEA around. The same goes for the American Girl brand which helps mother and girls connect and create collective experiences in manners that do not fit existing industry categorization. The list goes on and on…from Uber to Disney, Harvard, LinkedIn, Microsoft Office, etc.

In the past few years operators in Nigeria’s telecoms industry have been collaborating with different industries, to reach out to potential customers with services like mobile money, insurance services as well as marketing music and video. The question that suffices here is, what jobs are they looking to get done for the consumers in these areas? Are they really the best suited to solve these problems, and what do these roles communicate to the consumers in terms of brand purpose? The immediate fall out of this proliferation by operators in Nigeria’s telecoms industry is the growing lack of clarity in the minds of consumers of which brand will really deliver satisfactorily on any of the desired jobs to be done. More than a decade after the first licences were given to operators in the industry, it is almost impossible to reliable associate any of the telecoms brands in Nigeria to any of the services that are currently available in the market. Virtually all operators are as good or as bad, in many instances, as the other on all manner of offerings they bring to the market.  Truth is that these brands have failed to integrate around any particular consumer need. So, they are left with the traditional price competition, struggling with other look-like competitors in the market for the same consumer-base.

With the current state of the industry: almost no entry in the past decade; growing consumers base, though at a declining rate; increasing sophistication on the part of consumers, it is time for telecoms operators in Nigeria to identify features and functions in their service delivery that are relevant to specific jobs that consumers pay for their products to solve. It is time for operators to organize and integrate around specific service offerings such that consumers won’t have to bother shopping elsewhere or switching intermittently in their efforts to get a certain job done. This will send a clear message to consumers on what a particular operator stands for and enable premium pricing and growth, in the already slowing industry. 

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