Why Optus must start with ‘Yes, we blew it…’

Optus' reputation has taken a direct hit due to the company's most recent outage. Director of growth and strategy at The Content Agency's Lush, Stephen Ellis, takes a look at why Optus needs to acknowledge its shortcomings.

Optus will need more than optimism to rebuild its reputation in Australia.

Optus’ marketing team have a sizable challenge in front of them following the outage that left millions of its customers without access to the internet and phone calls for more than 12 hours.

Stephen Ellis

In the coming months, it will be the marketing team’s job to restore trust in the Optus brand, which is arguably just now recovering from a hit to its reputation caused by a hack in September last year.

The most significant challenge to rebuilding trust in the Optus brand will be its positioning – ‘It starts with Yes’.

Launched in 2020, Optus’ positioning statement is intended to capture the spirit of optimism and the idea that great things happen when you say yes.

“We want to embody the essence and attitude of what ‘Yes’ represents,” Melissa Hopkins, Optus’ former head of marketing said via the Optus website.

“As we all know, having optimism and commitment to say ‘yes’ is the start of new possibilities and real change.”

The problem is that millions of Australians said yes to Optus, and unfortunately for them… great things did not happen.

When Optus’ brand experience falls so far short of its positioning, trust with its customers is broken.

When trust with customers is broken in such a dramatic way, Optus can expect to lose significant market share, which will likely take time and significant investment.

To win back the trust of Australians, Optus needs to lean into its positioning and start with yes.

Yes, we failed our customers.

Yes, we failed the business community.

Yes, we failed to communicate well when it mattered most.

Yes, we will do better starting right now.

“If the world is a work in progress, with a tweak here and there, great things can happen,” the Optus website says.

This statement is intended to be aspirational, but Optus will need more than optimism to rebuild its reputation.

Optus needs to do the work and make the tweaks, not so great things can happen, but to fulfill its promise of providing great internet and phone coverage.

While Optus’ marketing team is undoubtedly up to the task of rebuilding trust in the brand, there is an important lesson for other businesses when considering brand positioning.

When deciding upon brand positioning, businesses must consider how this is reflected in their actions and words, otherwise a yes turns into a hard no and a hang-up.

Stephen Ellis is a communications strategist at the award-winning content agency Lush. With over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, 10 of these in the not-for-profit sector, Stephen has helped deliver campaigns across Australia and in major markets worldwide.


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