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LIME brand axed, Flow elevated in unfolding telecoms merger

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 9:16 AM

Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W) will kill the LIME brand and elevate Flow, a decision that group director of communications and culture, Grace Silvera, said was based on customers' votes.

LIME will disappear from signage in markets within the Caribbean as the CWC-Columbus merger of the cable and phone companies unfolds.

The LIME brand, which stands for landline, Internet, mobile entertainment, has survived for more than six years. It was created in November 2008, as replacement for the C&W brand, which had become synonymous with bad service, and was often referred to, tongue in cheek, as 'careless and worthless'.

Cable & Wireless said at the time of the rebranding that the name was meant to synchronise with fun and excitement - in a riff on the Caribbean word 'lyme', which connotes high-energy partying.

CWC has otherwise decided on a portfolio of consumer brands that will be rolled out in the coming months in markets where the necessary regulatory approvals have been obtained, the company indicates.

On Wednesday, the company said a "refreshed Flow" will be the unified consumer-facing brand throughout the Caribbean, replacing the former LIME and Flow businesses. Mas Movil and BTC will be retained as the consumer-facing brands in Panama and The Bahamas, respectively.

Silvera said "in-depth" customer research conducted across the region in December 2014 by an independent company revealed that Flow already has "significant brand equity in the largest Caribbean markets."

The research also found that Flow has a higher customer recommendation/net promoter score - a customer loyalty metric - than LIME and other competitors; and that Flow delivers 25-35 per cent higher customer satisfaction in key markets, said the communications director, a Jamaican who works out of CWC's operational hub in Miami.

"LIME customers ranked Flow higher against positive brand attributes, including innovation, value for money, customer-focused, going the extra mile," she said, quoting the survey findings.

In March, CWC closed the US$1.85-billion acquisition of 100 per cent of the equity of Columbus International Inc. Including debt, the acquisition is valued at US$3.025 billion.

CWC operates in 16 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America under main brands Mas Movil in Panama, LIME in most of its Caribbean markets, BTC in The Bahamas, and Cable & Wireless in Seychelles. Columbus operates in Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Curacao under the brand name Flow, and in Antigua under the brand name Karib Cable. It also operates Columbus Business Solutions.

Its subsidiary, Columbus Networks, operates throughout 42 countries in the greater Caribbean, Central American and Andean regions.

Jamaica has approved the merger of local assets; Trinidad and Barbados signalled their conditional approval in March, but a decision by other ECTEL jurisdictions - Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines - are still pending.

Silvera said that as a brand, Flow "still has room to evolve and deliver the vision for the new company".

Refreshing the brand will involve "redefining its point of view and ambition for the communities and islands we operate in," she said.

According to Silvera, Flow customers already have a strong brand image association with positive attributes, including innovative, refreshing, forward-thinking, progressive, 'a brand I can associate with' and customer-focused, as revealed in the survey.

Other brands to be used by the merged entity include a new corporate banner, C&W Communications, to replace CWC; C&W Networks, which represent the wholesale submarine and terrestrial fibre optic cables of C&W Communication and the former Columbus Networks; while C&W Business will be the business-facing brand across the group, replacing the former CWC Business Solutions, Columbus Business Solutions and Sonitel brands.

Silvera said that the rebranding will be done on a phased basis over the next 18 months, but said she could not provide details on what it would cost to execute the rebrandings.

CWC previously announced that it will be investing US$1.5 billion in the integration of the companies.