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Communications provider Vodacom was the first business stop for Stetson's Cohort 8 in South Africa.

Vodacom was the first stop on the Stetson University Executive MBA students’ business tour of South Africa, and the cohort’s visit was well-timed. Only three months ago, Vodacom underwent a large rebranding initiative. Vodafone acquired Vodacom in 2008, and Vodacom’s new look and new purpose were just unveiled April 1, 2011.

Vodacom is the leading phone provider in South Africa and has been a known player in the data and communications industry for more than 17 years. It was recognizable by its blue logo, which is now red. The company also introduced its new mission, according to Chief Operating Officer and interim Managing Director, Vuyani Jarana. “Connecting you, creating possibilities and changing lives” is the company’s purpose now, said Jarana. “The goal was to have a customer-focused experience by keeping the message clear — with speed, simplicity and trust.”

The rebranding included ads on TV, radio and print, and also used social media. Familiar characters, famous influencers and entertainers in South Africa were embedded into Vodacom’s messaging to keep the established customers while attracting new ones, especially youth. To reach the growing demographic of youth, Vodacom’s ads incorporated trendy music. Ads were linked to promotions which were key differentiators in the market. One of Vodacom’s goals is to give the customer top priority, and personnel now smile during their entire experience with the customer.

Students Denise Edelmaier, Larry Flory and Aziz Alessa tapped into their knowledge from their recent marketing course to ask questions pertaining to Vodacom’s new branding strategy and the company’s return on investment from the rebranding. The result, explained Vodacom executives, was that internal personnel had buy-in and renewed enthusiasm in their work. Externally, Facebook users soared, sales peaked, and the new red logo captures Vodacom as the “hot” player in the data and communications space in South Africa and moving globally quickly.

The Stetson team expressed gratitude to the entire Vodacom leadership team and executive department leaders for spending their morning educating Stetson University Executive MBA students on their unique, growing and evolutionary company.

“Vodacom has set the bar extremely high for what we hope to see and learn in our other South Africa business appointments,” said Flory. Eric O’Leary concurred: “The enthusiasm and passion that they have in their work and new direction is inspiring and gave me several ideas applicable to my line of work.”

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