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How does a legacy brand like Wipro reinvent itself?

By Ayan Pramanik
June 02, 2017 09:01 IST
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The IT major is donning a new face for the changing times, says Ayan Pramanik.

Azim Premji Wipro

IMAGE: Azim Premji, the septuagenarian chairman of Wipro, hinted earlier this year that the company that has been through many overhauls (mid 1980s, from an oil and foods major to a computer maker and then to an offshore software services provider and consumer care company) would need to reinvent itself yet again. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters.


Even as the Indian information technology industry faces its biggest crisis ever, companies in the sector have undertaken a massive rebranding exercise.

After L&T Infotech, it is the turn of Wipro, the country's third largest IT firm to overhaul its visual identity as it seeks to let customers across the world know that the brand is changing with the changing times.

However the question really is: how does a legacy brand such as Wipro reinvent itself?

Azim Premji, the septuagenarian chairman of Wipro, hinted earlier this year that the company that has been through many overhauls (mid 1980s, from an oil and foods major to a computer maker and then to an offshore software services provider and consumer care company) would need to reinvent itself yet again.

He called for 'connectedness' in the company's operating framework, an idea that made its way into the brand representation and the logo.

"We must recognise that societies, economies, and the environment are all deeply connected. Every effort of ours to find solutions and to find meaning, must strengthen this connectedness," Premji told employees in a letter.

Wipro's new identity reflects this.

"It is energising and exciting. Our new brand identity mirrors two key attributes cited by clients as unique to Wipro's brand: the integrated perspective that Wipro brings across multiple industries, technologies and geographies; and our track record of delivering excellence consistently," says Naveen Rajdev, chief marketing officer, Wipro.

The need for change has been felt for a while as technology companies worldwide have morphed into digital service providers. Traditional IT has ceased to exist as a moniker and a function in global companies, throwing Indian IT companies into an existential crisis of sorts.

According to experts, the software services industry is being disrupted as clients look for outcome-based services, irrespective of the man hours put in to raise an indent or solve a bug.

Today, services are delivered using digital technologies. It demands agile and nimble business models as well greater flexibility in payment models; for example pay-as-you-use models instead of long-term service contracts.

One impact of the changing environment is visible on the massive layoffs that the industry has been subject to, if the companies have to survive the maelstrom, they have to work differently, engage with clients differently and more importantly let clients know that they are changing.

"Agile technologies mean an agile logo," says Harish Bijoor, brand consultant.

Collaborate and co-create

For Wipro and the entire software services industry, customer expectations have changed dramatically and are evolving further. What makes change inevitable is a cultural shift: need for system integrators to become part of the growth story of a company or organisation.

"Our culture is shifting to a more collaborative, horizontal and entrepreneurial model. Our old identity and the spirit of Wipro values have always been an enormous source of strength. However, when we embarked on a journey of transformation, it called for a new visual identity. We mulled over our unique promise, the underlying purpose and central idea of our brand, and experiences that will resonate deeper with our clients, which in turn will serve as a reminder of our commitment," pointed out Rajdev as he tried to explain the new look.

Wipro's Mumbai-based peer L&T Infotech tells a similar story. The company's new tag line 'Let's Solve' sums up its objective to partner with customers.

Rajdev adds that Wipro's brand refresh also signifies a "closer engagement with clients, greater innovation, and a deeper impact on their businesses."

Landor India, the strategic brand and design consulting firm of UK-based WPP Group, helped Wipro redefine its brand image.

Change with continuity

Bijoor says that Wipro has maintained "a certain degree of continuity; while it felt the need to change its visual identity, rainbow colours are being maintained, so they can speak their old language."

Rajdev endorses this view. He says, "What will change will be our dramatic acceleration of the six pillars of our strategy: digital, non-linearity, client-mining, hyper-automation, localisation, and partner ecosystem. What will never change are our core values."

Will the transformation be easy?

Being a legacy brand has its advantages. For one, it has been successful with its transformations in the past.

Wipro has morphed itself several times since it was formed in 1945. But 2017 is a different story.

The business environment is changing, not just in new opportunities and business rules but also in terms of the rapidity of change. An old company may find it that much harder to keep shedding its skin.

"I do not think the transformation will be a problem for Wipro because the environment within Wipro and in the services industry is going to help them transform," says Bijoor.

True, but the changing business environment is not the only thing that companies have to contend with. The political climate that spawned outsourcing is fast receding from almost every country and this is what companies such as Wipro have to factor in.

Rajdev, however, has no doubt that the company has the tools it needs to deal with the new world. "The old ways that limit us will be left behind," he says.

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