Orange, a look back on a unique brand with multiple assets

150,000 employees, 27 countries, but a single and unique identity since 2015. The story of Orange has many chapters, but above all it is a singular and endearing brand with a human touch. We talk to Béatrice Mandine, Executive VP Communications and Brand for the Group, about how Orange and its history have evolved.

Can you start by telling us where the name Orange comes from?

Béatrice Mandine: The Orange brand story starts in the UK. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Hutchinson Whampoa group, which owned the Rabbit mobile network, sent the visionary Hans Snook over from Hong Kong to shut Rabbit down as it was losing money. He had a different idea, and instead breathed new life into the mobile network operator under a new identity: Orange. The official launch was on 28 April 1994 and the square logo stood out right from the start for its friendly and straightforward values. I think the simplicity of this name, which is associated in everyday language with the fruit or colour, contributed to its ability to set up a close relationship with consumers.

Why do you think Orange is a unique brand?

BM: From the start, Orange focused its communication not on technology for technology’s sake, like its competitors were doing, but on how people could use it. This positioning was quite visionary for the time, especially as it was combined with a new and innovative service offering. Per second billing, Caller ID and also rollover minutes revolutionised the UK market back then. What’s more, there was a desire for openness, simplicity and accessibility that meant that its success didn’t diminish even when the brand was acquired by France Télécom. On the contrary, the brand has continued to strengthen in all the countries where we are present, and in connection with our heritage as a French public service, which is part of our DNA.

How has the Orange brand expanded internationally?

BM: This has happened gradually for our business and personal customers. In 2000, when France Télécom acquired Orange, the Group already knew the benefits of the brand and in particular its potential for international adoption. However, it was necessary to wait until 2006 to rebrand new offers in France and launch them under the Orange name. Our audiences were quite attached to the former commercial brands, so rebranding is a delicate exercise and it needs to be undertaken with a lot of education and sensitivity. Since 2013, when the Group itself was rebranded to Orange, the momentum has accelerated. In Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the aim is to bring all of our activities together under a single identity, Orange, which is capable of uniting all of our audiences.

Is it true that the Orange brand has been able to create a strong relationship with its audiences?

BM: Absolutely. The most obvious example is in France, where in addition to being a market leader Orange is also the incumbent telecoms operator. Brand engagement is very strong and it’s a real asset for our Group. Internationally, Orange also has great stability which inspires confidence. It is one of the top four highest valued French brands in the world in the 2018 BrandZTM Top 100, which ranks the most powerful global brands. And it has also recorded the best progress on the global telecoms market, which we’re particularly proud of!

How do you explain Orange’s ability to unite people from all locations and cultures?

BM: I think the answer lies in our ability to address some of the greatest societal challenges. New uses are appearing every day, which is why we are continuing our focus on making it easier to access digital services across our operating countries. This commitment is reflected in the way our innovation always has to serve the public interest, as progress only makes sense if it meets universally shared needs. I think that this positioning, in addition to being an integral part of who we are or our “DNA”, also strengthens the attachment our various audiences feel when it comes to the Orange brand.

This DNA, is it in line with Orange’s Human Inside philosophy?

BM: Yes, it’s totally in line with it. More than just a project or ambition, our Human Inside philosophy conveys our vision of progress, which is both positive and reassuring, and guides all of our actions. While it’s true that digital technology might instil some fear, new technologies can be used to improve the world, provided that everyone can make the most of them. That’s our belief and the meaning behind our Human Inside philosophy.

Finally, how does the Human Inside philosophy translate into the brand signature “It’s all about what matters to you”?

BM: “It’s all about what matters to you” or “Vous rapprocher de l’essentiel” in French, is a way of expressing our mission to connect customers with what’s most important to them. This signature is a promise that we make to everyone, everywhere in the world. It’s also very current and really reflects what we’ve become. We’re more than just a telecoms operator; we're a player involved in everything that’s essential to our audiences: education, personal finance, culture and entertainment, cyber security, health and connected devices… so many fields of diversification that enable us to look to the future with confidence, as Orange has always proved its ability to meet the challenges ahead throughout its history!