Deutsche Telekom: From a public company to a magenta-colored experience
What do customers expect from brands in the future? How do companies stand out in a saturated industry? And do companies need a color brand? These and many other questions were answered by Alexander Engelhardt, Vice President Brand Management at Europe’s largest telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG, at the largest marketing event of the University of St. Gallen, led by Prof. Dr. Johanna Gollnhofer and Prof. Dr. Torsten Tomczak. Alexander Engelhardt looked back on an impressive brand transformation of Deutsche Telekom and explained what has to be done in the future to fully transform Telekom’s brand perception in people’s minds.
From a public company to a magenta-colored experience
The Deutsche Telekom brand is undergoing a radical change. From a purely technology-oriented brand, it is becoming an experience brand. Today, Deutsche Telekom no longer only sells telephones or Internet connections, but also offers innovative solutions such as its own smart home system, thus transforming itself into an innovative network provider in the age of the Internet of Things. Even the refrigerator, which orders products itself and also suggests recipes with existing products according to the consumer’s preferences, is no longer a vision of the future for Deutsche Telekom. However, in order to transform the brand in the minds of customers over the long-term, it takes years, if not a decade or more, of consistent, innovative, emotionalizing and high-quality brand management. While many associate the brand with long waiting times in the waiting loop of the service hotline, Alexander Engelhardt is already dreaming of a magenta-colored lifestyle that allows everyone to share their experiences anytime and anywhere. But it is still a long way to go to shake off the outdated square image and be perceived as an exciting brand.
“We are the ones who open up the possibilities of digitization to people.”
What does Deutsche Telekom stand for?
Deutsche Telekom is more than just a technology brand. It is an experience! According to Engelhardt, people are not interested in technology, but in the opportunities, it opens up. For Deutsche Telekom, technology is not an end in itself but enables people to stay in touch with others and experience moments together. With the slogan “Life is for sharing”, the brand creates deeper meaning and stands out in the saturated telecommunications market, where services and prices differ only slightly. Brands must become tangible and it must be possible to encounter brands, not only on the Internet but directly. For example, Telekom collaborates with artists such as the band “Die Fantastischen Vier” and created the world’s first VR experience of a band to mark the band’s 30th anniversary, thereby setting new creative and technological standards.
With the slogan “Special stories get bigger when you share them” Deutsche Telekom does not advertise its services, it tells stories and emotionalizes others. For example, Alexander Engelhardt reported on the story of the American photographer Bob Carey. In order to cheer up his wife Linda who suffered from breast cancer, he photographed himself in a pink ballet tutu in various places. The photos made Linda smile, encouraged her and helped both to overcome the disease together. Little by little Bob’s pictures spread over the Internet and social networks. What followed was an incredible response and a flood of affection and sympathy. The photos became more than just pictures of a man in a pink tutu. They became symbols of hope and joy in life. The photos and the sharing of personal destiny with others have changed the lives of Bob and Linda significantly
“The story of Bob and Linda moves people all over the world. It shows how sharing makes stories even greater. That’s why it perfectly matches Telekom.”
The familiarity with the customer and the tangibility of the experiences is particularly necessary for technology companies, which otherwise appear almost interchangeable in a saturated market. Everyone, both customers and employees, should be able to identify with Deutsche Telekom. No matter how low the prices may be and how good the services may be, sustainable identification only works through experiences and emotions.
Magenta stands out and is anything but boring. With its unique color selection, which is exclusively reserved for Deutsche Telekom, the technology giant manages to set itself apart from its competitors and achieves incomparable recognition. Like the striking sound logo, almost everyone nowadays inevitably associates the color magenta with Deutsche Telekom. But “magenta is more than just a color”. Magenta is an experience and is increasingly becoming a corporate brand with which more than 217,000 employees and customers can identify.
Deutsche Telekom employs a department with lawyers just to protect the color brand. But do we really need a color mark? According to Alexander Engelhardt, recognizability is essential. In Europe, the brand landscape of telecommunication providers is either blue or red. Magenta stands out and everyone knows immediately: “This is Telekom!” But it takes many years of consistent marketing to change the perceived world of colors both externally and internally from the former bureaucratic and boring gray to the exciting magenta.
However, the transformation of a brand requires more than just a new color. It needs an experience, the brand must become more tangible, more exciting and more personal. It is not the technology that Telekom markets. It is the opportunities this technology creates.
We thank Alexander Engelhardt for the impressive presentation of Deutsche Telekom’s brand management.