6/4/2008 11:14:00 AM
Alexander’s brand and service project
Visitors to Orange’s HQ in Paddington Basin have remarked about the lack of buzz. One senior industry source compared it to a government building. ‘You don’t get the feeling you’re at an innovative telecoms company.’ If you were cruel, you could say the atmosphere at Orange HQ bares more of a likeness to St Mary’s hospital across the road.
Although the atmosphere at the head office is far from a key metric, it seems symptomatic of the problems at Orange in recent years: a company that appears to be plodding along, with a distinct lack of dynamism.
CEO Tom Alexander wants to inject a bit of the old Virgin Mobile spirit, but knows that it is going to be a much bigger task in his new role. The changes he reveals this week to be more customer focused are not revolutionary, but they are certainly in the right direction. Alexander knows he is catching up to structural changes made by O2 and Vodafone in the past, but he has a brand that rivals envy.
Orange has been undeniably hampered by the hold over the UK strategy from its parent company in Paris, and it will be fascinating to see what Alexander can do, given he has been given the empowerment that his predecessors weren’t allowed.
Alexander won’t be able to turn the clock back to the swashbuckling entrepreneurial days of his time at Virgin Mobile or even the white knuckle ride of Orange in the 1990s, but both businesses stood out for two things that Alexander badly needs for his current project: an exciting brand, and closeness to customers.