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Kagan: Sprint should update its brand

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure is traveling around the U.S. on a listening tour, talking with customers trying to get a good understanding of Sprint’s position in the marketplace from their point of view. Let me offer my two cents. Sprint quality, reliability, reach and speed has improved greatly during the last couple years. However, the marketplace doesn’t know about it yet. So Sprint needs to update and refresh the brand identity.

This is the same problem Sprint had a few decades ago. Back in the 1980s they were a long distance carrier. Today they are wireless. However, the problem is the same. So the solution may be the same as well.

Remember the “pin drop” ad campaign from the 1980s? Actress Candice Bergen and others educated us about the upgrades to the Sprint long distance network. They said they had improved the network and now it was so good you could hear a pin drop.

The reason for that campaign was to shake up the marketplace so customers would finally understand that Sprint had invested in and dramatically improved its network quality. And it worked.

Sprint pin drop commercial

What about reviving the pin drop commercial for the Sprint wireless network? If done right this could work just as well 30 years later. Different service. Same problem.

To date, the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier has had good advertising with the chainsaw and messages about lower pricing and offers to tempt customers away from competing services. However, that may not be enough. If customers don’t know about the improved network, they may wrongly connect this lower cost for lower quality.

New Sprint master brand

Going forward, perhaps Sprint would benefit from a refresh. A renewed brand. That means a new kind of advertising. To my way of thinking they could create an overarching theme of the “New Sprint.” This could be the major focal point of a brand building campaign.

Shake things up so customers will realize this is not the same problem-oriented company of the past. This is a new Sprint, with new quality, speed and reach, just at a lower cost. I have noticed a marked improvement in quality of Sprint service. RootMetrics and Nielsen say the same thing in a growing number of markets.

This two-pronged advertising approach may be what is needed right now. Focus on the new Sprint and the lower prices to win customers back. Under this new master-branding strategy, they can also run sub-categories of ads about pricing and promotions.

The reason is simple: if customers are not yet aware of the new improvements to the network, they may think the reduced pricing is just another way to drum up business for a poor quality network.

New strategy for Sprint

However, if the marketplace first understands the Sprint network has been re-invented and is being re-introduced, that will attract attention of the user. Then, when you add promotional offers to that new network to get customers to give Sprint a try, it may be just what the carrier needs to break out with new growth.

This is the same kind of challenge AT&T had 12 years ago. They started out as SBC, which acquired AT&T, BellSouth and Cingular. Back then they asked me whether they should keep the SBC name or change it all to AT&T. My advice back then is the same as it is today: update. AT&T did update and they have won big time as one of the two, big industry leaders.

Bottom line, Sprint is a new and updated company. Market by market they are improving and strengthening their network. So they need a new and updated approach to tell the world. They need to stand on top of the mountain and shout about the accomplishments and transformation. They need to tell the marketplace this is not the same Sprint you used to know. It’s a new company, with a solid network, that keeps getting better.

They did this successfully 30 years ago as a long distance carrier and I believe they could be just as successful using this strategy today as a wireless carrier. It’s time to update the company identity and refresh the brand.


Jeff Kagan
Jeff Kagan
Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

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