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EE, Orange and T-Mobile’s Brand Crisis

Ever since the merger of Orange and T-Mobile I have wondered how the new company (Everything Everywhere – now rebranded as EE) will manage it’s branding. The UK’s mobile market is busy and there are an increasingly large number of players. On one side we have the the big MNVOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) including Virgin Mobile, which as of late seems to have confused its value proposition, and Tesco which caters for price conscious clubcard wielding consumers. On the other side we have the network owning power five; O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three. All five players have been busy attracting a nice little portfolio of MVNOs but on the whole have managed to keep their unique identities which, in a crowded marketplace is extremely important.

Now enter EE. EE is the unimaginative re-branding of Everything Everywhere – the company which incorporates both T-Mobile and Orange. The consolidation of the Orange and T-Mobile networks kicked off the confusion. Smart Signal (read our article on Smart Signal!), now finally re-branded simply as EE was a logical move. It has allowed EE to build a strong network whilst at the same time achieving cost savings by reducing the number of mobile masts (i.e. getting rid of all T-Mobile masts in N.Ireland). However it has created two brands owned by the same company using exactly the same network. One offers value for money (T-Mobile) and the other (Orange) seems to have lost its identity providing exactly the same service on the same network as T-Mobile but at a higher price. They do however chuck in Orange Wednesdays to sweeten the deal.

Whereas Orange is currently EE’s premium brand they are now throwing yet another consumer brand into the mix – EE. Yes, EE will now be the name of both the parent company and their third brand which in my books is just plain confusing. Furthermore EE will effectively become the EE group’s premium brand offering 4G down a new network called 4GEE. Oh and we’d best not forget to mention that all Orange, T-Mobile, and Everything Everywhere stores (a few exist under the old Everything Everywhere banner) will become EE stores in the future. Within these new EE stores there will be three different areas for Orange, T-Mobile and EE. So… to recap we’ll have the EE network which Orange and T-Mobile use, EE the parent company, EE the new premium brand, EE the chain of stores which sell Orange, T-Mobile and EE services, and 4GEE (“FourGeeEeeEee”) the 4G/3G network that EE will use. I believe the young generation would say WTF? OMG? WTH? right about… now.

Where does this leave Orange? The premium non-premium brand that does everything that T-Mobile does but at a higher price point? Whereas the EE group has achieved big things in consolidating their network they still have a love affair with their old established brand names. We don’t think this position is tenable. Samsung Geeks believes that T-Mobile and Orange will eventually fade away to just leave EE. This new EE network is probably a result of the rush to launch 4G and gain a first mover advantage. It very conveniently also coincided with the launch of the iPhone 5, the device that is inferior to the Galaxy S3 (click here to see our comparison!). Whether or not this confusion in branding actually null-and-voids this advantage remains to be seen. It certainly confuses the hell out of us. Also what were they smoking (put your suggestions in the comments below!) when they chose the name EE?!

O2, Vodafone, and Three are likely to launch 4G services as a premium proposition under their existing brand. It’s neater, tider and doesn’t bombard an already crowded marketplace with new brands. We’re quite excited to hear that O2 and Vodafone gained clearance to combine their 2G, 3G and 4G networks together (more info here). EE may be doing very good things but this love affair with their old brands must end if they wish to capitalise on their strengths without confusing consumers. We’re just going to come out and say it… it’s time to let T-Mobile and Orange go. EE should be the sole primary brand with the EE network as their staple network and 4GEE as their premium network / proposition. After all does EE Wednesdays really sound that bad… okay well maybe it does!

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