Q & A with Richard Iweanoge General Manager, Brand & Communications, MTN

Richard Iweanoge, General Manager, Brand & Communications at MTN Nigeria, Talks on brand identity and brand evolution in setting a discint and desirable impression in consumers’ minds.

Brandessence: What is brand evolution?

Richard Iweanoge: Brand evolution simply is about transformation. It is the strategic decision to identify and retain desirable elements of a brand and then change other attribute in order to make it fit for a new audience or market segment. Some liken it to renovating a brand to improve its relevance and appeal but really, it is striking the fine balance between heritage and evolution.

Brandessence: Why is Brand Evolution Important? What can we improve?

Richard Iweanoge: Brand Evolution is vital to for sustainable marketing as flexibility and adaptability determine competitiveness. For example, when a brand expands its portfolio or enters a new region, it may need to evolve in order to win with new customers in the marketplace.
What can we improve? Basic brand elements (brand font, colours, sound) can be revised to fit present day nuances and culture. Today, evolution strongly evident in the way brands interact with customers, especially in the age of social media, internet shopping and artificial intelligence.

Brandessence: How do you describe a Brand Identity?

Richard Iweanoge: Brand identity refers to tangible and/or visible essentials of a brand, that include color, logo, font type, tagline, imagery that identify and differentiate it in the minds of consumers.

Brandessence: MTN: How can you Simplify Your Brand Identity? What is the purpose of Brand Identity?

Richard Iweanoge: Brand Identity is critical in setting a distinct and desirable impression in consumers’ minds. It improves salience at point of purchase and simplifies the consumer buying decision process. There is a great deal of media and shelf-space clutter that customers have to go through everyday; a strong brand ID ensures your product is easily identifiable.
Simplifying brand identity infers that there is a problem with current design. We see this trend in the world as leading global brands choose icons (an apple, a swoosh, a dot) to represent themselves consistently. They recognize customers have so much to go through everyday hence the need for simplicity. The process involves collecting all current brand Identity elements, reviewing them and determine which still fit into the brand vision. I recommend customer research is infused into this process to ensure alignment between desired brand ID and customers’ perception of it.

Brandessence: How does your logo communicate your brand?

Richard Iweanoge: A logo is usually the first thing customers see or come to identify your brand with. It communicates your brand personality, it can reflect the market segment you are positioned to reach and can depict how trendy or fixed you are as an organization.

Brandessence: How are your business and industry transforming? What are some of the major changes and trends you’re anticipating?

Richard Iweanoge: The increase in video content , streaming and gaming as 4G networks become almost ubiquitous presents us with an opportunity to players to evolve into content developers rather than mere platform infrastructure providers. To this end, we also see players like MTN leading the way in developing OTT applications like Music Time and Ayoba to ensure we have a foothold in the critical customer digital marketplace.
However, 5G, which MTN demonstrated in Nigeria in 2019, will be the transformative game changer as internet speeds faster than what we imagined possible will become the norm.

Brandessence: How are you evolving the marketing function/structure in your company to be more customer-eccentric?

Richard Iweanoge: We are increasingly-focused on improving customer experience and have adapted our systems and people structure to build capacity in that area. A good example is myMTN App. It is a means to further simplify customer –brand interaction and has successfully garnered over 4 million active users already. They use the app to access data services, interact with customer service, participate in MTN activations like MTN Yello Star, play video games and so much more.

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