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Bill Bennett


Can’t start a fire without a Spark

Today Telecom NZ becomes Spark New Zealand. It is a big change for the company.

I worked with Peter Kerr of Stick on a feature series about the name change at Scoop: Igniting the Spark – Why Telecom Wanted To Change. Spark sponsored the story and gave us access to executives, but didn’t interfere with the editorial.

As part of the project I met Jason Paris who is now Spark GM Home, Mobile and Business. At that meeting I got answers to two things about the name change:

First, the risk of killing off a well-known brand that took years and millions of dollars to build.

It turns out the Telecom brand had effectively become a barrier between the company and the customers it most needs to win over for its long-term prosperity. You can read more about that in the feature, but the simple answer from Paris was that not changing the name presented a bigger risk.

Spark not unique

Second, I worried Spark wasn’t original enough. That it would struggle to stand out from the other companies, products and organisations both in New Zealand and around the world with the same name. This is why many corporations choose a unique, made-up name.

In particular, I feared it might be difficult to find in Google. I tried this when the news first broke and the New Zealand telecommunications business didn’t show until about the third page of search engine results.

Of course the flurry of activity, Google advertising, other marketing activity, the news and other noise quickly changed this. As you can see from the image at the top of the page, just hours after the name change, the phone company dominates the Google NZ search results.

Goodbye Telecom NZ, it’s been great writing about your business over the years. Welcome Spark and good luck.



3 thoughts on “Can’t start a fire without a Spark

  1. Changed to 2degrees just in case. The name change to me signalled trouble. I keep my number and have the same plan.

  2. I’m sorry you have such little faith in Spark and hope that we can prove to you that this is a change for the better. Its only a matter of time before you come back to the bright side. ^Julie

    1. Maybe. I had no real qualms with Telecom the 14 years I was with them. I am worried the name change is a precursor to a move more like Vodafone and breaking of net neutrality like they have – a cause I am greatly aligned with.

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