Essential for life



From the start, O2 set out to do things differently. They needed a big brave solution that would turn around the fortunes of the flagging BT Cellnet, Digifone and Viag Interkom brands and create a mobile telecommunications offer to compete internationally with the likes of Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.


The Lambie-Nairn brief was to develop a new, sector-challenging brand.


Whilst everyone in the market was focusing on phone features, from the start O2’s customer was always placed centre stage. Consumer research identified the relationship people were starting to have with their mobile phones, and one particular quote stood out, predicting the future role of mobiles in consumer lives. It is still relevant today: “My mobile is as essential to me as my house keys or my wallet – I wouldn’t leave home without it”.


‘Essential to life’ became the brand essence for the new brand. This ensured the focus was on adding value to the lives of the customer. Asking “What is essential to life?” provided the inspiration for oxygen, which in turn led to oxygen’s chemical symbol (O2) and the ubiquitous bubbles on a blue background.

Freeing the brand from a conventional logo heralded a new approach to corporate identity, creating maximum awareness for less than a third of competitors’ advertising budgets.

This insight not only shaped the brand strategy and visual identity, it is also fundamental to the O2 business, putting the customer at the heart of everything it does. More than a telco brand, O2 offers unique experiences and creates emotional connections. It turns customers into fans.


Through Lambie-Nairn’s brand guardianship, O2 has continued to develop and build the brand, expanding into new markets and sectors. These include financial services, health, wifi, education and The O2 itself, which is the world’s most popular venue and best international arena.


Five years after launch, Telefónica bought O2 for £18bn, £4bn of which was directly attributed by Accenture to the value of the brand. From 3 markets it quickly expanded into 5.


Within its sector the O2 brand is:


No. 1 for brand consideration

No. 1 for customer loyalty

No. 1 for customer service

Five years after launch, Telefónica bought O2 for £18bn, £4bn of which was directly attributed to the value of the brand.

Lambie-Nairn is O2’s retained brand agency, actively developing and managing the brand across all markets and agencies.


Since the purchase of O2 in 2006, Lambie-Nairn now performs the same role across the Telefónica Group and other operating brands (including Blau and O2 in Germany, Movistar in Spain and Latin America, and Vivo in Brazil). Lambie-Nairn’s central brand function helps co-ordinate all things ‘brand’ (across all stakeholders, markets and touch-points), reaching over 350 million people.

“O2’s brand performance has exceeded our most optimistic targets, outperforming the Orange brand launch in terms of spontaneous awareness.”

Accenture research, conducted 2 years after the O2 brand launch