TELUS Brand Analysis

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History

       The creation of this telecommunication giant started when the province of Alberta created a holding company called TELUS Communications in 1990 as a part of the privatization of the Alberta Government Telephones Commission. From 1995 to 1999 TELUS acquired Edmonton Telephones and merged with British Columbia Telephone Company. The company then took the name TELUS Corporation and became the second largest carrier in the country after Bell Canada. TELUS continued to expand by purchasing PSINet in 2001 for $77 million and Clearnet Communications for $4.3 billion (Wikipedia, 2013). Due to the costs of expanding business the company laid off around 6,000 employees throughout 2002 and 2003. In 2006 TELUS acquired IT security specialist Assurent Secure Technologies and just two years later TELUS purchased Emergis a developer of software for the health care and financial industries, for $763 million (Wikipedia, 2013). TELUS is continuously building its enterprise. In 2012 they purchased Wolf Medical Systems, a leader in providing physician solutions for electronic medical records in Canada. In 2011 TELUS had 41,100 employees and 10.4 billion in revenue (TELUS Communications Company, 2013).

Brand Values

       As one of the largest and most recognizable telecommunications companies in Canada (Hutson, 2013) TELUS is able to maintain an innovative and creative edge on their competitors. TELUS’s “give where we live” philosophy speaks volumes in the world today where giving back is an essential part of business. Every year more than 3000 TELUS employees volunteer their time to help build stronger communities (TELUS Community Ambassadors , 2013). Their innovation and friendly appeal consistently bring in new clients and help them to retain current ones. Unfortunately, keeping the brands image up is not always as cute and cuddly as their ads. Like many telecommunications companies, TELUS faces an array of issues from technical glitches to poor economical conditions, keeping customers happy and safe is a never ending job.

TELUS’s values were formed with their employees in mind. In October 2008, TELUS was named one of BC’s top employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc.  They know that it is their employees’ relationship with the community that makes the difference. Since 2000, TELUS and its team members have contributed more than $245 million to charitable and non-profit organizations and volunteered more than 4.1 million hours of service to local communities. TELUS sponsors Calgary Science Centre, Science World in Vancouver and several educational and athletic organizations and events throughout Canada. TELUS is also active in sponsoring sports teams and organizations like Hockey Canada and their TELUS cup midget hockey championship (Wikipedia, 2013).

Target Audience

TELUS discovered that “the top reason for unsubscribing from marketing messages was irrelevance: an overwhelming 74% of consumers unsubscribe for this reason” (TELUS CES, 2013). In order to reduce irrelevance in their marketing they focus in on specific markets with each product and/or service they offer. For instance KOODO is aimed toward young Canadians living on a budget who are 18-34.  TELUS targets cultures in Canada through Optik TV which offers multicultural channels in multilingual languages. They also have packages for hearing or visually impaired. The GO PINK campaign targets women who have been affected by breast cancer to have a chance to give back. TELUS also has targeted plans for specific markets such as families with their share plus plans and student plans.

TELUS’s targets several different audiences through different initiatives. For its family plans and Optik TV  TELUS targets, working moms in urban areas who make between $35,000 to 50,000 a year. They are very busy and like to keep in contact with all family members as they often the planners and decision makers for their families.  TELUS also targets women with their GO PINK campaign. These women are affected by breast cancer  who want to give back to their community. They live in rural areas and have strong family/friendship bonds and make between $40,000 to $55,000 a year.  TELUS targets students who are 16-22 years old. They often  have financial concerns and make between $15,000 to $25,000 per year. They live in urban areas and are environmentally conscious. Of course some TELUS customers simply adore their animals and philosophy.  

Brand Establishment

      TELUS’s strategic intent is to “unleash the power of the internet to deliver the best solutions to Canadians at home, in the workplace and on the move” (TELUS, 2013).  There are six strategic imperatives that guide efforts and serve as a framework for employee actions. A few examples  are: “providing integrated solutions that differentiate TELUS from their competitors and going to market as one team, under a common brand, executing a single strategy” (TELUS, 2013). TELUS health solutions sets them apart by offering management solutions such as electronic health records and access to essential drug and medical information (Marketline, 2012). The TELUS team works together to deliver future friendly services and their values guide the way. Employees “embrace change and initiate opportunity, have a passion for growth, believe in spirited teamwork and have the courage to innovate” (TELUS, 2013).

Direct & Indirect Competitors

       TELUS’ top competitors are BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. (Hutson, 2013).

BCE is Canada’s Biggest Communications Enterprise. The company (Bell Canada Enterprises) owns Bell Canada, Bell Internet, Bell TV and 44% of Bell Alliant. BCE’s mobile holdings include wireless carrier Bell Mobility and subsidiary Virgin Mobile Canada (more that 7 million subscribers).” (BCE Inc., 2013) “Rogers Communications owns Rogers Wireless, Canada’s #1 mobile phone outfit, with about 9 million subscribers across the country. They also own the nation’s #1 cable TV operator, Rogers Cable also oversees the company’s Internet and nationwide landline and computer telephony service.” (Rogers Communications Inc., 2013).

TELUS competes by continually expanding their promise of pricing and contract transparency. In late 2010, clear and simple device upgrades were introduced to offer customers a fair and simple way to upgrade to a new device without waiting until the end of their contract term. As a result TELUS added 447,000 new wireless customers in 2010 (TELUS, 2010). Indirect competitors for TELUS include: COGECO Inc., Quebecor Inc., Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corp., Shaw Communications Inc. Vonage Holdings Corp and more (Hutson, 2013) TELUS differentiates itself from its indirect competitors through their partnerships. TELUS teamed up with Microsoft in 2012 to begin offering Optik TV on the Xbox 360. They will take advantage of the Kinect movement sensor which will allow viewers to perform remote control functions with hand gestures and voice commands.

 Marketplace

          Recently TELUS, along with BCE and Rogers, has been accused of taking actions to hinder the emergence of competition in Canadian telecommunications. This, along with other industry concerns, has led to consumer and industry pressure to reform the regulatory system governing the Canadian telecommunications industry. Due to consumer demand  many Canadian carriers have reduced their contracts from  three year terms to two year terms but for many consumers two years is not soon enough. In September 2013 TELUS was set to unveil T-UP! a new program that will supposedly make it “easier and more economical” (Bader, 2013) for customers to upgrade annually. This type of program is likely to be a success providing that Apple continues with its annual cycle.

        In 2013 TELUS stated that they were willing to spend up to $1 billion on share buybacks by the end of this year — twice as much as they had originally planned. They believed that this would “enhance the value of the remaining shares” (Canadian Press, 2013). Another way that TELUS has added value to their company is through “Koodo, a postpaid value brand, launched in 2008 with lower price points and a simplified, lower-cost approach. This brand continues to successfully position TELUS against new entrant service offerings.” (TELUS, 2010)

Figure 1: TELUS STOCK CHART OCT 18 CLOSE 35.29

       The company generated approximately 20% of the total industry revenue in 2011. In addition, at the end of 2011, TELUS had a share of 28% of the wireless market in Canada based on number of subscribers. Moreover, the company covers 99% of the Canadian population. The market position indicates that TELUS enjoys a large addressable market and is therefore better positioned to drive revenues as the market grows. Strong market position in the Canadian telecom market provides TELUS with a competitive edge over the existing players and the new entrants. (Marketline, 2012)

Unique Positioning

The Future is Friendly.

       TELUS positions their company as trustworthy, innovative and reliable. In the 2011 code of ethics they require every employee to understand and apply the guidelines that they believe will help best maintain an ethical work environment (TELUS CORP, 2013). In mid-October 2013 TELUS is going to release Canada’s only push to talk service available over Wi-Fi (Canada Newswire, 2013).

       TELUS advertising has been noted for its use of whimsical, nature-themed imagery and the slogan, ‘The Future is Friendly’. Many of the company’s television, outdoor, in-store, and print ads feature animals including tree frogs, lizards, ducks, goats, pandas and more. The foundations of the TELUS brand originated with Clearnet Communications, including its colours; green and purple, and use of animals and the “the future is friendly” tagline, which was developed and started by Clearnet in the late 1990s (Wikipedia, 2013).

Strengths

       TELUS’ strong growth has put it in position to become the second-largest (Hutson, 2013) operator in the market. Strong market position and brand identity in Canadian telecommunications market. TELUS was ranked as one of the most valuable brands in Canada with a value of approximately $2.9 billion in 2011 (Marketline, 2012). TELUS has a broad product and service portfolio including voice, video, data and health solutions (Marketline, 2012).

Corporate Social Responsibility

       In support of their philosophy to give where they live, TELUS, their team members and retirees have contributed more than $300 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered 4.8 million hours of service to local communities since 2000 (TELUS, 2013). TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition (Corporate Social Responsibility Report, 2012).

 (TELUS Community Investment, 2013)

TELUS ‘s 14 Community Boards lead its philanthropic initiatives. TELUS’s Pink Campaign donated $25 on behalf of every new Samsung GALAXY S4 customer, across Canada, during the summer. Through TELUS’s support, Rethink will continue to bring breast cancer education, awareness and support to women under 40 years old (TELUS Community Investment, 2013). TELUS Community Ambassadors have donated more than 70,000 Kits for Kids that school districts distribute to help students start the school year with the supplies they need to succeed (TELUS Community, 2013).

 Weaknesses

       A major weakness for TELUS as with any major telecommunications company is reliability. Some TELUS customers in B.C. and Alberta including some emergency services lost the use of their landline and wireless services for a few hours. “It was intermittent and sporadic,” said Shawn Hall, social and media relations director with TELUS. “We know how important phone service is and we did everything we could to get it back as quickly as possible,” he said (Judd, 2013).

       Every company is subject to scams and TELUS is no exception. A lottery scam believed to have originated in England sent letters to residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. The “advanced fee scheme” falsely claims to be associated with TELUS and Koodo and asks for recipients to deposit a money order to cover fees to receive a prize of $51,950 (RCMP, 2013). Another scam involving TELUS was a phone call vacation scheme in early 2013. TELUS is working toward blocking calls from reaching their customers and working with law enforcement to put an end to these calls but scammers are quickly creating new false numbers (Canadian Newswire, 2013).

       There have also been several internal issues for the company that became external issues when they were not properly dealt with. “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” was a major ad for the company in 2005.  The campaign featured a hippopotamus named Hazina from the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Unfortunately the ad created some negative publicity for TELUS in May 31, 2006 when the zoo was formally charged with animal cruelty for their treatment of Hazina. TELUS was involved in a labour dispute with the Telecommunications Workers Union when the contract expired at the end of 2000. In April 2005 TELUS made an offer to employees in Alberta and British Columbia and locked the union out by the company. TELUS and the TWU eventually reached a tentative agreement on November 18, 2005 (Wikipedia, 2013).

Recommendations

       “TELUS has made a number of investments and innovations in recent years to significantly improve their competitive position in the wireless market and prepare for new competitors.” (TELUS, 2010) but there have been several situations that conflict with their core values. One of these situations is the negative publicity created from the hippopotamus commercial. TELUS was aware that concerns had been raised around Hazina’s living conditions and supposedly stipulated that the $10,000 it paid the zoo for using Hazina go directly toward building a new enclosure. (Wikipedia, 2013). Considering the attention that this ad brought to TELUS more efforts could have been made on their part to ensure Hazina’s safety.  If the company continues to work with animals, as they most likely will, they need to ensure that they do all they can to give back.

      TELUS prides itself on its innovation however, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in the U.S. offer a similar program to TELUS’ T-UP! The downfall for TELUS customers is that T-UP is only available for Phone 5s customers who purchase their phones between September 20th and October 20th 2013” (Bader, 2013). Limiting this program may hinder them when BCE and Rodgers release their programs which will likely be less restrictive and possibly cause some customers to leave TELUS. The company needs to prepare to make this program less restrictive in order to compete.

       The company believes in helping its local communities and non-profits but how many people know about what they do? TELUS needs to take advantage of the good they do. They do press releases and the event may appear in the local paper but they could do so much more, like showcasing their employees volunteering in commercials.  Employees volunteering at a local zoo would be in keeping with their theme. Considering the number of commercials they make about their plans and offerings a commercial about how they and their employees give back and what they have done will have a greater impact on attracting new customers and retaining old ones in today’s market where giving back is a necessary part of business.

 References

Bader, D. (2013, September 19). TELUS to unveil T-UP! iPhone 5s trade-in program. (E. Solutions, Ed.) Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Mobile Syrup: http://mobilesyrup.com/2013/09/19/telus-to-unveil-t-up-iphone-5s-trade-in-program/

BCE Inc. (2013, October 15). Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Hoovers Company Records: http://search.proquest.com.rap.ocls.ca/hooverscompany/docview/230567898/1413E22E0406FBEE08A/2?accountid=39345

Canada Newswire. (2013, October 2013). TELUS launches next generation of push to talk, telus link. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from Ebscohost: http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail?vid=2&sid=e1583a8b-9880-400a-9f52-dc2b51cca305%40sessionmgr115&hid=104&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLGNvb2tpZSx1aWQmc2l0ZT1lZHMtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=bwh&AN=201310010900CANADANWCANADAPR.C5977

Canadian Newswire. (2013, April 26). Public Service Announcement – TELUS warning customers about vacation phone scam. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from EbscoHost: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-christopher-/big-telecom-canada_b_3958233.html

Canadian Press. (2013, July 2013). Telus Doubles Size of Potential Stock Buybacks to $1 Billion. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from CTV News: http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/telus-doubles-size-of-potential-stock-buybacks-to-1-billion-1.1379365

Corporate Social Responsibility Report. (2012). Retrieved October 4, 2013, from TELUS: http://csr.telus.com/en/

Hutson, C. (2013). TELUS Corporation. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from Hoovers: http://cobrands.hoovers.com/company/TELUS_Corporation/hjjcki-1-1NJHW5.html

Judd, A. (2013, September 19). Telus sas Wednesday Night Outrage affected some Landline and Wireless Customers. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Global News Toronto : http://globalnews.ca/news/851285/telus-says-wednesday-night-outage-affected-some-landline-and-wireless-customers/

Marketline. (2012, September 25). Telus Corporation SWOT Analysis. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from Business Source Premier: http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a7360cec-7754-4b17-8fbb-7861db5c144e%40sessionmgr112&vid=3&hid=105

RCMP. (2013, September 7). Telus Warns Canadians about Lottery Scam. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from SUN Media: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/business/archives/2013/09/20130907-090349.html

Rogers Communications Inc. (2013, October 15). Retrieved October 11, 2013, from Hoovers Comapny Records: http://search.proquest.com.rap.ocls.ca/hooverscompany/docview/230615774/1413E2B5B7B2A03EA7E/1?accountid=39345

TELUS Annual Report. (2013). Putting You First. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from TELUS: http://about.telus.com/investors/annualreport2012/files/pdf/en/ar.pdf

TELUS CES. (2013). TELUS Front Line Marketing. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from Customer Experience Solutions: http://telus.com/en_CA/content/pdf/products/applicationsCategory/TFL_Marketing_datasheet.pdf

TELUS Communications Company. (2013). TELUS History. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from TELUS: http://about.telus.com/community/english/news_centre/company_overview/company_history

TELUS Community Ambassadors . (2013, September). Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://about.telus.com/community/english/news_centre/news_releases/blog/2013/09/09/telus-community-ambassadors-help-600-local-students-go-back-to-school-with-supplies-they-need

TELUS Community Investment. (2013). Raise your paws. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from TELUS: http://about.telus.com/community/en/partnerships/pink/

TELUS Community. (2013, September). TELUS Community Ambassadors help 600 local students go back to school with supplies they need. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://about.telus.com/community/english/news_centre/news_releases/blog/2013/09/09/telus-community-ambassadors-help-600-local-students-go-back-to-school-with-supplies-they-need

TELUS CORP. (2013). TELUS Ethics Policy. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from TELUS: http://about.telus.com/servlet/JiveServlet/previewBody/1648-102-2-1638/2011_Ethics_Policy_EN.pdf

Telus Corporation. (2013, September 15). Austin: Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. . Retrieved from ProQuest: Hoover’s Company Profiles: http://search.proquest.com/hooverscompany/docview/230631987/1409D1DCB4360FCD543/1?accountid=39345

TELUS. (2013). Our Strategy & Values. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from TELUS: About Us: http://about.telus.com/community/english/about_us/company_overview/strategy_%26_values

TELUS. (2010). Questions & Answers. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from TELUS 2010 Annual Report: http://about.telus.com/investors/annualreport2010/investor_overview/questions_and_answers/new_and_existing_wireless_brands/

Wikipedia. (2013, September 18). TELUS. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telus

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