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Elements that built the credibility of a “brand new company”

• The SEC blackout restrictions though these restrictions were negatively perceived by the company, I think that they helped Lucent building its identity. Indeed, when the company disclosed his message, it was a big surprise for the entire market place. Thus, it must have created a formidable “buzz” and many questions ranging from “what is this company? what are they doing?”, for unaware General Public, to “why AT&T has decided to separate his activities in three separate entities?” for investors, up-end consumers and VARs.

• The name and the logo the use of a garish color with lowercase letters in the logo as well as a theme name, were unusual practices among major industrial companies. To ensure a large adherence to the concept, the company carefully submitted the choice of the name to a wide palette of people (4% of which was general public). All these symbols out of the ordinary for a technology company must have captured a large portion of people’s attention. In the first place, their motivation to learn more about this company must have distracted them from paying too much attention to the fact that it was a former division of AT&T. They were ready to hear the story Lucent wanted to communicate.

• The advertising campaign among the 1 desired image attributes selected for the new company, only 7% of them belonged to the past. While referring to the former belonging to AT&T and Bell Labs to ensure credibility of the new structure, management wanted to make a clear break with the unique telephony image and emphasized the numerous technological innovations available in the new company. The use of the human voice in both the broadcast and print advertising was determinant in creating the brand “persona” in the people’s mind. It was the unique alternative not to have them think of the 15-years old “rock” that was AT&T.

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• The consistency of the message “question and answer” packages to be used as guidelines were provided to all employees having a potential contact with external constituents in order to ensure the consistency of the message. This was a key issue to enforce the credibility of the new promise. Indeed, after the surprise, investors and customers must have questioned the ability of the company to achieve a new contract with the same employees. Thus, contacts with the company had to prove them that the change occurred.

• The choice of the CEO the fact that the highest representative of the company was coming from a different company and even from a different industry, clearly showed to the market place that Lucent was different from AT&T. A few investors may have noticed that he was a former member of the AT&T board but the majority did not.

• The timeframe by being able to come up with a corporate identity in less than a quarter was also a demonstration that Lucent changed from a slow, not responsive style to a highly flexible responsive one.

However, despite all these efforts to create a new brand promise, the credibility of this statement belongs to the employees’ capacity to makes it a reality. It is only through time and consistent quality of its interactions with the marketplace that Lucent will be accepted as a “brand new company”.

• Strengths of the process

- The size of the survey involved almost 1,500 people in order to determine the awareness and perceptions of Bell Labs (7% of which were from outside the company).

- The sample involved not only national but also international companies, which is in line with the objective of the company to be a global actor.

- The results were broken-down by audience type which was helpful for the interpretation and the importance to be given to each audience.

- The choice of the most important heritages from the past among the 1 attributes that belonged to Bell Labs, 7% have been kept.

• Weaknesses the internal research and the missing steps

- The agency did not require neither from management nor from the cross-unit team to define the brand vision.

- There was no benchmark or ranking realized with the competitors for each attribute identified and the survey did not ask for the most important values to the customers.

- They did not ask for the reasons motivating their relation with S&T and did not determine their eventual needs.

- The desired attributes have been added by the cross-unit development team without validation by the consumers, the agency firm stressing the importance of getting senior management’s approval.

- The validation of the positioning was done without feedback from the marketplace and without determining what would be needed to be changed in the current organization. As mentioned by Scott M Davis in his book, Brand Asset Management, “Critical to a brand contract is that, before the contract is made and its positive promises publicly stated, your organization determines how best to make them a reality”.

Before starting the survey, or at least in parallel, the agency should have required a brand vision from senior management.

The agency took time to identify both the nontraditional (Microsoft, Disney) competitors and the traditional ones. They analyzed the points of differentiation required in terms of design. However, Landor should also have included a benchmark between the competitors’ brand and T&S’s brand to determine the key attributes that make the true differentiation.

Since Management want to add new attributes to the Lucent’s brand, it would have been wise to obtain a feedback from customers in order to determine which one were the most relevant.

Finally, the most important omission, which may result in damaging the brand, is the assurance that all promises can be duly implemented and respected.

Transfer of the brand equity has been mainly achieved by adding to the name of the new company the “Bell labs innovations” tag line. The objective underlying this decision was to ensure the image of continuous innovation, quality and reliability that the Bell name owns.

A letter informing all main customers that Bell labs remains the source of innovation for Lucent Technologies could be a solution once the company is launched (SEC restriction passed).

• The symbol before the announcement was made, the Landor agency worked on the logo design, trying to reinforce the theme followed for the name (Energy). It is important to highlight this part because there is a risk that the company be required to drop their logo for offense to a religion. Indeed, the “innovation ring” is actually a religious symbol of Buddhism, called the “enso”, recognized by most of the eastern religions (exhibit 1). Association of this religious sign to the millions of products the company expects to sell could be interpreted as an offense. The advertising agency should have done researches on the subject before proposing it to management.

• Announcement though the advertising agency was involved lately in the launching process, in order to comply with the restrictions of the SEC, his work was crucial for the success of the brand. Indeed, the visit of the Advertising Agency to the Bell Labs gave birth to the humanization of the brand, with the “Lucent Guy”. Though it was only a voice, it helped creating the uniqueness of the brand, its own identity rather than a mere “former subsidiary of AT&T”.

However, a mistake in the implementation was made when the ability to question about the new company identity was given to two sites only. As mentioned earlier, the support of the employees to the new corporate identity was the most crucial in the whole process. They are the only one who can make the carefully crafted identity comes true.

• Internal communication anticipation on the guidelines package and practices to be followed could have been anticipated. It would have avoided unnecessary panic among the employees, who once again needed to support the identity. However, the fact that AT&T and Lucent planned and prepared a coordinated message to give to the reporters enabled the company to keep this “panic” situation within the organization.

Training intensive training should be given in priority to sales and customer service clerks. They are the representatives of the new identity and their interactions with the customers may either consolidate the new identity or damage the brand by not respecting the “promises”. This phase was handle with package guidelines which came late and might not be as effective as a 4 hours session with actual “role games”.

• Institutionalizing the new identity to make the message clear that Lucent was one and unique company, all communication supports which were in contact with external sources (building, cars, web sites, sales, and product marketing …) had to be coherent and fit the new corporate identity. Inside materials, except business cards which are the passport of the employees to the external world, were not given priority.

However, tough the risk was limited with a list of “musts” and “shoulds”, management should not have granted the divisions with the possibility to modify the standards. To ensure the maximum level of efficiency and unity, all communication supports should be coherent and consistent over the time and over the media.

• External communication a -phases advertising campaign was decided. The priority was given on building the brand personality and on introducing Lucent to the consumers. However, Management should rapidly consider “surveying” the consumer on their perception of the brand in order to validate or modify the brand promise that was elaborated.

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