Consumer perceptions of the rebranding of Vodacom.
Branding is used by organisations to differentiate themselves or their products from their rivals. Creating and establishing a strong brand that is seen to be superior to an organisations competitors can take many years and requires large financial investments. Rebranding is a process of taking a known brand and changing it to create a new identity which could include: name changes, logo changes, colour changes, slogans and even cultural and philosophical changes. In 2011, Vodacom embarked on a rebranding exercise in order to comply with the international image of its majority shareholder Vodafone. The Vodacom colour and logo were replaced using the “sudden eradication” approach. Such an approach can have a detrimental impact on the organisation. The aim of the study was therefore to determine the impact that the brand change of Vodacom had on cell phone customers. A quantitative study using an online questionnaire was conducted. In order to obtain a reasonable sample, non-probability snowball sampling via social networks was used. A total of 772 people viewed the questionnaire whilst 412 completed it. The salient findings of the study included: the majority of the respondents were aware of the Vodacom rebranding exercise, the most effective medium used to communicate the rebrand was television, over three quarters of the respondents felt that the rebranding had no impact on them, almost ninety percent of the respondents said they would remain with Vodacom after the rebranding whilst almost two thirds of non-Vodacom subscribers said they would switch to Vodacom. In the final analysis, just under two thirds of the respondents viewed the rebranding as a success. One of the main recommendations was that Vodacom needs to capitalise on the willingness of subscribers to switch to Vodacom and as such Vodacom needs to embark on an effective porting strategy to facilitate the switching process. It is also recommended that Vodacom needs to reduce call costs and that they should offer cheaper and better handsets which customers are expecting as a result of the association with Vodafone. It is evident that whilst the Vodacom rebrand has been seen as a success, the use of a non-probability sample makes it difficult to generalise the responses to the broader South African mobile phone consumer base. The short term view is that the rebrand has been a success, however, Vodacom needs to deliver on consumer expectations associated with the rebrand.