Launched in 2001, Cell C is the third — both in terms of introduction date and market share — cellular service provider in South Africa behind Vodacom and MTN. No one likes to be in third place, so Cell C is pushing forward to gain some momentum with a new identity and a feisty new spokesman.
The new corporate identity, according to Cell C CEO, Lars P Reichelt, reflects the company’s vision of understanding its customers’ way of life better than anybody else and tailoring solutions around them to enhance lifestyles and improve livelihoods.
The new brand identity also consists of a six-colour bar which represents the colours of the South African flag as a symbol that Cell C cares about South Africa, and South Africa only. Cell C intends to cater to all customers and not just those within specific LSMs.
“We are not just flying the flag on specific occasions — we make it part of our everyday life. It is a reminder that this is the land of incredible possibilities and Cell C wants to be the ‘possibilities provider’ for all South Africans,” said Reichelt.
— Facebook news item
The old logo wasn’t too bad or too dated, so this is a clear case of the company being proactive more than reactive and using the identity redesign as part of their bigger goal to signal change. The new logo could be described the same way. It’s not too bad. Bold and simple. But the problem is that there are a few too many bold and simple ideas going on at the same time. There is the typography, which is fine and doesn’t distract. Then there is the “C” in a circle — which, yes, looks like the ubiquitous copyright symbol — that can be used in conjunction with “CELL” or on its own (with a ™ above it… interesting). Then there is the bar with the colors of the South African flag, that feels very disconnected from the main elements, but there it is, nonetheless, underlining the whole thing.
So, as I said, not too bad. It looks good on the website and it stands out. Now, about that spokesman…
At the end of July, the (pretty funny) clip above by comedian Trevor Noah going off on cell phone service in South Africa (with a specific jab at Cell C) was uploaded to YouTube. Shortly thereafter, Cell C purchased full page ads in the Sunday Times and Rapport newspapers, issuing an apology to Noah for having crappy service. Shortly thereafterafter, Cell C convened a press conference in which they announced their big plans for the future, the new identity, and the hiring of Noah as their spokesperson. Well, as their CEO (Chief Experience Officer). He has his own Cell C page now too. Both Cell C and Noah claim the newspaper stunt was coincidence, although they also agree that both parties have had a “long-standing commercial relationship.” Regardless, the point was to get people talking, and it worked. Now it’s just a matter of getting people talking through Cell C’s network.