It’s a tough time to be a telco

A critical time of introspection

By Tom Gray, Brand Strategy, Design & Experience Specialist

Feb 2024

Share article

URL copied to clipboard

Share Article

2023 will demand significant introspection and business transformation within the telco category. With familiar and new forces shaping the agenda for countless Product & Revenue Heads (more on that later), telcos will be left with a red pill/blue pill choice:

1. Focus on designing simple infrastructures and operational excellence? The kind that ultimately prioritise the basics (network) and reduce cost of ownership, or;

2. Ruthlessly pursue service-led excellence? Where products and services are truly personalised, customised and digital-first. 

Regardless which they choose, 2024 will see telcos face unfamiliar challenges as well as novel twists on established ones.

Familiar pain points (and new ones)
There are familiar pain points, but there are a growing set of new challenges.

Telco interaction and UX models now feel dated vs. impossibly high (and seamless) standards of new ‘digital native’ companies. Service-delivery and value capture models are being redefined by AI and big data. New entrants are nimbler – their offerings tailored to the few and inherently more bespoke.

Challenge 1: Brand Elasticity

Patience. A virtue for the few.
Customer behaviour has irrevocably changed. We demand ‘entertain-me-now’ content. Anytime. Anywhere. So now CMOs should be investing in elastic brand identities; those capable of coming to life in the small pockets and spaces customers spend time in; those capable of entering new markets or domains; and those capable of enhancing entertainment content.

Challenge 2: Maintaining relevance

Evolve the experience offering and integrate it into the everyday.
Competition for market share is intense. Competition for share of customer attention far more so. As largely invisible forces, Telcos need to design effective customer life cycle strategies and digital ecosystems that become integral to customers’ daily lives. This does not mean visibility for visibility sake. It means finding ways to weave relevance and, crucially, value into the everyday. Less brand-first comms (“Look how much we’ve invested”), more customer-first experiences and features that aid and abet daily life.

Challenge 3: Digital experience and intuitive design

Goliath telcos need to be more David
For well established brands of scale, legacy operating systems and ways of working can make innovation hard. With smaller, more nimble entrants and ‘digital native companies’ re-raising the experience bar, established Telcos need to keep up and be relentless in the pursuit of premium, customised products and digital-first customer service.

Challenge 4: Smarter personalisation

Show me you know me
As Telco brands become increasingly data savvy, they need to bake smarter personalisation into more human-centric journeys. Designing pathways and connections between humans and products and experiences has never been more critical.

Challenge 5: Verbal identities that can stand the heat

Don't say it. Prove it.
For the categories' customers, data security and environmental impact are subjects that can be met with cynicism. With increased instances of data leaks and greenwashing (across sectors), Telcos need to tread carefully with how they use and monetise data as well as implement environmental strategies. Customers will rightly demand to see and hear businesses speak about both. To ensure they don’t compromise privacy and trust, brands will need to lead with transparency, tonal EQ and consistency.

To find out more about our experience working with Telco's, please see our Swisscom and Optus case studies.

It’s time to change Australia for the better

At Re, a group of us have been working to amplify the campaign for a First Nations Voice to Parliament

By Alysha Menzel and Mia Montesin, Senior Designer and Designer at Re

Sep 2023