Wipro gets ready for makeover

The $6 billion Wipro is feeling the need for a brand makeover. The last time the Azim Premji-led company went in for a brand-logo overhaul was in 1998. The logo created then — a combo of a rainbow flower, the nameplate Wipro (in black) and the tagline “Applying Thought (again in black) — has served the company well all these years.

It may be time for another change. The company being Wipro, care and caution mark the identity brush-up. On the last occasion, it ran a survey to read the minds of stakeholders on what Wipro stood for and whether the pre-1998 logo truly represented the company. It is this research that led to the present logo, and the slogan ‘Applying Thought” — a catch line created in 1996 — became part of it.

According to people privy to the exercise, like the last time, this time too the job of creating a logo (or tweaking the present one) may go to Shombit Sengupta, the France-based design specialist.

Discussions have been on for sometime in top-level meetings. Sengupta could not be reached for comments.

It’s not that Wipro has undergone a metamorphosis since 1998. It has grown enormously in size but not so much in the kind of business it does. IT services, IT products, consumer care, lighting and healthcare systems remain as they were except in dimension.

Yes, the company has exited the business of financial services (in 1999), but that’s about all. In character and spirit, Wipro of 2100 is no different from Wipro of 1998.

What has changed is the weightage of IT business on the top line and bottom line. For example, IT accounted for 71 per cent of all Wipro revenue in 1998, today it is 76 per cent. More importantly, IT services bring over 90 per cent of Wipro’s operating income, way up from 75 per cent in 1998.

A change more immediately apparent to Wipro watchers is of more recent origin. A new organisation structure has been put in place under the new IT business CEO, TK Kurien. Will the logo update reflect this? The company is not telling. Sachin Mulay, GM for brand & communications, told Financial Chronicle: “We are in the process of doing internal research on this matter and there is no direction as yet. We do not have anything further to comment on this matter for now.”

A month ago, after the IT organisation restructure, Kurien told this newspaper that customers ‘still love the rainbow’.

The ‘Applying Thought’ campaign devised by Shining Strategic Design, a France-based consulting firm, in 1996 became in 1998 a part of a complete brand makeover as Wipro’s prowess in IT, engineering, lighting and consumer care businesses became more evident.

But brand experts say Wipro needs to emphasise its tagline more than re-do the logo. “More than the logo, there is a need to articulate the tagline ‘Applying Thought’ in a meaningful way through the organisation. Hopefully, the scope of the current exercise covers that too,” said Jessie Paul, CEO of Paul Writer, which focuses on B2B marketing infrastructure.

In terms of timing, logo changes are most effective when used to signal a big transformation in the organisation, according to Paul, who had earlier been chief marketing officer of Wipro’s IT business and global brand manager of Infosys.

Some others think a brand upgrade is necessary. “Given Wipro’s global footprint (in over 55 countries) across diverse businesses, there may have been challenges to communicating the Wipro brand personality consistently, accurately and with maximum impact. Plus, generation next, i.e. Rishad Premji, now drives the strategy at the company,” said the marketing head of an Indian IT services company.

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