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SingTel: The face of evolution?

Singapore telecom group SingTel is undergoing a major rebrand following its evolution into a multimedia company.

Earlier this year, SingTel underwent a number of changes with the merger of HungryGoWhere.com with inSing.com, the acquisitions of mobile ad platform Amobee and social photo sharing app producers Pixable, all under its Digital Life unit.

Allen Lew, chief executive of Digital Life, told Marketing the revamp was an attempt to move past the traditional telecom stereotypes and position SingTel as a centre for information and excitement – and not just a medium to make phone calls.

However experts such as Lawrence Chong, CEO of Consulus are calling the rebrand skin-deep. Chong said despite SingTel being equipped with the right instruments such as content, channels and cash, it doesn’t generate the imagination and innovation needed for the business.

“While the shift has happened some time ago and Asian telcos are just catching up, one thing SingTel has done very well for years is its prudent investment strategy,” Chong continued.

He added that all telcoms are aware that it is ultimately content that drives revenue. However, “SingTel is sitting on an oilfield that is not really being monetised properly.”

“This is more of an organisational challenge rather than a perceptual one. If they can overcome it then you may see something incredibly powerful like Amazon,” Chong said.

While SingTel has both the content and infrastructure and very few can compete with the organisation, the teleco giant is simply “monetising content because they can trade it for fees and this is definitely a great way to hold customers,” Chong continued.

His scepticism remains as to whether SingTel will be successful getting people to re-imagine the business and create new growth.

Nick Foley, president of Landor Associates, mirrors Chong’s scepticism and labels the rebrand as merely a “marketing tactic.”

He added the move is targeted at the Generation Y and below and added that if SingTel is genuine about rebranding it needs long term strategies and new experiences across retail and the customer journey.

Foley added that the current move taken by SingTel comes across as a tactic to counter initiatives by StarHub “which arguably is perceived to be a younger persons brand.”

As part of the rebrand, a Korean pop concert was held at Clarke Quay last Friday. Lew said the showcase was part of the new brand campaign to demonstrate SingTel’s “transformation into a multimedia” and “to offer content-rich services”.

The concert, announced only an hour prior to the showcase on its Facebook page, garnered an estimated 2,000 strong audience.

Lew added that Facebook and Twitter were vital platforms for the brand to communicate better with customers using the “tools they are familiar with”.

Moving forward, customers can also expect a more personalised approach when SingTel employees respond to customer queries on Facebook.

The responses will no longer be under the cloak of SingTel’s anonymity but will have the responders photo and name.

“Through our understanding of what our customers want and prefer, we are able to come up with innovative apps, content and technology for everyone,” Lew said.

“Our vision is summed up in our new motto: Let’s Make It Amazing Together and Bring Joy to Our Customers.”

Meanwhile as competition heats up, StarHub, Singapore’s biggest broadband internet and cable TV operator, added new content to its portfolio to stop its customers from moving over to its rival SingTel.

Earlier this week StarHub said 1.2% of TV customers switched operators in the third quarter, as did 1.5% of its broadband subscribers.

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