Telus invites Canadians to work with them to make the future friendly

Who: Telus and The Greenhouse.

What: A new brand platform: “Let’s make the future friendly.” It’s an evolution of the company’s longstanding brand platform “The future is friendly,” which was first introduced in 2000.

When & Where: The rollout is being supported by a comprehensive campaign that includes TV, radio, out-of-home, digital and social, as well as influencer and PR initiatives.

Why: According to Telus’s chief social innovation and communications officer Jill Schnarr, the repositioning is designed to highlight the company’s emphasis on “social capitalism,” represented by programs such as the $100-million social impact investment fund Telus Pollinator Fund for Good, its Connecting for Good programs that use technology to bridge digital divides, and its IT healthcare platform, Telus Health.

“We wanted to bring purpose and profit together, and really showcase our social capitalism messaging and put it at the forefront,” said Schnarr. “We see that customers want to do business with companies that share their values, and that’s also how we attract top talent.”

How: On the face of it, the changes aren’t radical, although there is a significant change in the core message. The company’s “The future is friendly” positioning was originally conceived as a way of helping Canadians navigate and welcome new and emerging technologies.

Now the message is about making a more friendly future with and for Canadians well beyond technology. “You might say it’s not really a huge change, but it’s a major change because we’re now welcoming everyone to join us as we strive to make the world a better place,” said Schnarr.

The “future” has been a bedrock marketing principle for Telus for two decades, and Schnarr said there was no consideration given to moving away from that concept. “We didn’t want to completely pivot away because we’ve built up so much positivity in that brand asset… We wanted to retain and leverage the legacy we’ve built in that brand promise, but refresh and enhance it and change it a little.”

The company had been contemplating refreshing the brand platform, although the decision was accelerated by the pandemic. “We wanted to refresh our brand promise and we thought it was a good time to reflect on who we are and what we stand for,” said Schnarr.

The animals: The Telus “critters”—a menagerie of mammals (and some reptiles) ranging from chicks to chameleons—have also been a mainstay of Telus’s marketing over the past two decades. The considerable brand equity in the “critters” made their inclusion in the new brand platform a no-brainer, said Schnarr, although the company did set out to make them appear more authentic and realistic in this new round of ads.

“[In previous advertising] you would see a beautiful lion cub, but it almost appeared photo-shopped” and possessing almost human characteristics, said Schnarr. “We wanted to make [the animals] appear more realistic.”  Working with The Greenhouse, Telus has created a whole new library of assets featuring new animals, with a particular emphasis on Canadian wildlife such as the lynx and the black bear.

Other new assets: While Telus is retaining its core brand colours of purple and green, it has also broadened its colour palette to include complementary colours, such as pink. “It gives us more flexibility to be more creative with how we portray our brands,” said Schnarr. The company has also introduced new fonts (Helvetica Now) and more bolding in some of its messaging to give its communications greater legibility and impact, said Schnarr.

The music: It’s “More than a feeling” by classic rock mainstays Boston. Named one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004—and ranked fifth on the list of the top 15 most played Classic Rock songs ever— it has proven a popular choice among marketers in recent years, who are no doubt drawn to the song by its soaring chorus and generally upbeat sound.

The song has previously appeared in ads for brands as diverse as Coors, Barclaycard (a campaign that reportedly helped the song return to the UK singles chart), Yoplait and a casino resort. Much to the consternation of its composer, Tom Scholz, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee also used it at rallies during his 2008 presidential run.

And we quote: “We’re trying to showcase how different we are as an organization. We’re trying to say that when you come to Telus, you’re part of something bigger.” — Jill Schnarr, chief social innovation and communications officer, Telus

Chris Powell