Branding Kencell to Celtel to Zain to…..?
This is really going to be interesting from a branding perspective! Its now confirmed that Vivendi from France has negotiated to acquire Zain’s African operations. This is somewhat interesting since Vivendi used to own Kencell in Kenya which it then sold off to Celtel back in 2003 as a result of its own financial challenges at the time. From a Kenyan marketing context, Vivendi’s acquisition of Zain is going to be expensive in terms re-branding, once again. What I mean is that we first we got used to Kencell, then they became Celtel, and thereafter Zain – and now, what next? Vivendi?
I’d hate to imagine how much has been spent in Kenya alone in terms of re-branding and re-marketing this business, and it keeps on happening as can be expected when companies change hands. But here’s the kicker, with a dominant and consistent brand like Safaricom in the green corner, it surely must be eroding their brand-less customer base. Safaricom is and has always been accepted as a truly Kenyan brand, even though it is largely owned and run by Vodafone PLC of the UK. In trying to build a Pan-African brand, Celtel and Zain may have ultimately compromised the Kenyan operations of the business by continuously changing the brand name to reflect either new ownership or a change of marketing strategy. It shows how the world of mergers and acqusitions is so very fluid that brands have little chance of staying static. But as we all know, consumers buy the brand, and not the product or service. Good luck, once again, Vivendi.