Building Digital Brands Together: Middle East And Pakistan

The desire for change and digital brand creation

Etisalat by e& is an Emirati-based multinational telecommunications services provider that operates in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The 18th largest mobile network operator globally, Etisalat wanted to use Circles to support its digital telco businesses in various territories as part of their strategic roadmap.

Working together:
The beginnings of a JV

By planning for key markets e& wanted to target, we came up with a plan that mapped out what we would accomplish together as partners. Through this, we realized that by giving e& the ability to transform and scale digital brands using Circles around the world, we’d be able to expand our own digital footprint, whilst growing and supporting a giant telco’s ambitions.

The first strategic market: Pakistan

After examining many strategic markets with first mover opportunities for a digital brand, it was decided that the first to market for the JV would be Pakistan. With the highest cellular penetration in South Asia, Pakistan is a fast growing market where the cellular-first outlook of consumers demands strong connectivity and innovative digital services.

On the ground: Pakistan at first glance

With Pakistan, we knew that being disruptive and digital first would serve us well. In a large, heavily competitive market where the largest two incumbents take up 67% of the market share, we knew the volume game was not where we wanted to play.

By honing in on an underserved segment of the population who wanted more options for digital services, we knew that brand building, variable plan pricing, a loyalty program and a digital first customer experience would help us win.

The birth of Onic

e& knew they wanted to enter the market with a new sub-brand to target digital natives. With a median age of 20.6 years, creating a brand that would appeal to Gen Zs would be instrumental to their success, so the Circles team began shaping and branding a sub-brand that would have popular widespread appeal.

By focusing on breaking convention, we wanted to create a personality that would resonate with giving digital power back to the people.

Brand building and influencer strategy

After months of market research, we knew that a strong brand position, as well as brand ambassadors that could represent the brand would be important.

As a market that responds well to celebrity endorsements and word of mouth marketing, we worked to create different personas for each of our four celebrities to speak to. From fashion to sports, our carefully curated ambassadors successfully created personas that not only felt true to themselves, but also to Onic, which in turn made all our touchpoints uniquely human and transformative in feel.

Compelling product and pricing propositions

A strong brand cannot survive on marketing alone, so we worked closely with the e& team to create a disruptive product and pricing strategy that would be able to penetrate the key player dominated market.

Simply put, by creating a well priced monthly subscription plan with high data plan usage, coupled with discounts redeemable through selected brand partners, we created a value proposition that made it hard for our target audiences to refuse.

Delighting the digital savvy customer

From day one, we made it really clear it would be super easy for any customer to sign up for our services.

From ordering a sim card to white glove service delivery, good in-app experiences to responsive customer service, we wanted to make sure that we created a brand that delivered on its promises.

Today, with one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the history of Circles and its partners at 97.5%, we believe that Onic will continue to become one of our key market success stories.

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