Revitalizing O2’s Brand Through Innovation Management

Slow Growth Ahead

Formerly British Telecom’s “problem child,” BT Cellnet was re-launched in 2002 as O2, offering consumers a breath of fresh air and becoming the leading mobile brand and the people’s favorite in a few short years. Yet by 2008, O2 faced multiple challenges affecting their growth prospects in a mature market where mobile networks were increasingly seen as utilities. Innovation was seen as mission critical in closing a significant OBITA gap since efficiency gains in the current business would not be sufficient to meet the company’s targets. O2 approached Vivaldi to reinvigorate the brand through innovation management, with high credibility and potential for growth, and to identify the right opportunities which would increase emotional attachment and boost the core business.

Hundreds of Bright Sparks

Vivaldi Partners deployed a project team of four consultants with varied yet complementary skills and backgrounds to collaborate on-site for several months in O2’s Bright Sparks Studio - a secret room hidden above an O2 retail shop in Notting Hill, London. The team began by uncovering latent needs of the UK public through Vivaldi’s DemandFirst research methodology, spending up to 3 hours with individual consumers in their homes learning about their goals, needs and frustrations. We interviewed over 30 consumers across demographics in London, Leeds and Glasgow. We intersected this research with global megatrends to develop six innovation “drill sites” for O2, under the themes of Sanctuary, Fulfillment, Focus, Identity, Participation and Knowledge.

Through a series of creative exercises, including deep immersion into London experiences that represented each drill site, the team ideated a longlist of 130+ new business ideas. The long list of ideas was prioritized through a series of criteria, including size and growth potential, and then matched with existing O2 capabilities. The team then developed business cases, including NPV valuation, for the top 6 ideas and validated them with potential consumers and B2B customers.

Path to Becoming a Superbrand

As a result of this exploration, O2 committed to a brand extension strategy that led the company to offer services beyond the core to include health, education, insurance and financial services. Additionally, O2 undertook an imaginative brand extension into entertainment which increased customer loyalty and helped create the world’s most popular music venue: the O2 Arena.

Meet The Expert

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Lee Powney

Senior Partner

Lee Powney is a Senior Partner based in Vivaldi’s London and New York offices. Lee works with global businesses to identify and exploit new opportunities for growth. Lee has developed an enviable breadth of experience across brand strategy, business model, and product and service innovation engagements with clients over the last 18 years. Lee has developed unique methodologies and tools to help organizations tackle discontinuous innovation challenges, leverage cultural trends, and he has established compelling human-centered processes for concept validation and experimentation.