Innovative approaches to experience and culture helped us put listening at the very core of Orange's business.

Telcos aren’t listening. Just ask people in France, Spain, Senegal and Poland – places where telcos like Orange have been growing their businesses to meet the expectations of an increasingly digital world. We did. And every one of them told us clearly: telcos just aren’t listening.

When Orange first entered the market, it instantly stood out as more human, simple and accessible than the others. But in a digital age, and with 230m customers, simply being simple isn't enough – and Orange needed help to rethink what made them special.

So twenty years after Wolff Olins created the original brand, we pitched and won the opportunity to do it all over again.

Our approach started with the belief that technology is better with a human touch – that a digital world thrives when it builds on what’s special about us: our ability to listen, and our deep appreciation of being listened to. Listening is how we understand what’s essential in someone's world, so that we can respond in ways that make them say ‘Wow!’

We explored what it means to really listen. We talked to nurses and researchers, clinical psychologists and aid facilitators, distilling what we learned into the principles of a listening experience.

Digging around at the roots of listening turned up another question: what kind of experiences would a ‘listening company’ create?

So we designed 'trigger' moments for customers and employees to feel that they were interacting with a brand that truly listened. For example, we took to the streets with a 3D-printed orange box, asking people what one thing they would most like it to do. These insights gave birth to new ideas that we brought to life through making, prototyping and testing.

To turn these insights into reality we’ve been working closely with Orange’s brand, marketing, product, digital and retail teams to transform how they present products and services to customers. This new architecture starts with six themes that we identified in research as being truly essential for people across the world: home, work, money, wellbeing, fun and family.

The visual system starts with a frame that contains a customer insight, followed by a pop-out that shows how Orange responds with the relevant product, service or benefit.

To help it communicate with customers the new brand needed to express itself differently. Working closely with Orange, we’ve developed a new expression system that shows it is listening to what’s essential, and responding to people’s changing lives.

More than anything, the architecture's themes and expression broaden the conversations that Orange can have with its customers, from product features and price, to essential solutions for people’s everyday needs.

Even with strategy, expression and prototypes in hand it is impossible for a company of 170,000 people to suddenly become brilliant at listening. So we took a step back and started designing a culture that could grow and support systemic change across 33 countries.

We piloted the work in two of Orange’s major markets: Poland and Spain, working with teams on the ground to understand their unique needs. We’ve generated ideas through workshops as well as making tools and games to help them generate ideas themselves. We built an online sharing platform and developed a brand champions program to train a generation of trainers.

The combination of senior leadership and pilot testing gave us the necessary insight into uniting an effective brand strategy with an ambitious business strategy. Working with the CEO’s executive committee, we figured out how the brand's ambition could amplify the corporate strategy in a way that met the needs of the modern consumer - and engineers a valuable and desirable culture.

Our biggest challenge now is to inspire 170,000 employees with the spirit of change, empowering them to be accountable to 230m customers.

We're confident the new Orange brand will make everything brighter, putting its people and technology in touch with the everyday needs of individuals. The journey from pitch to launch has been almost two and a half years, and during that time, a few moments have really touched us:

Firstly, the response of the business leaders in France, Spain and Poland when they were told (by customers) that their sector simply wasn’t listening. We were struck by the speed with which those leaders embraced change and took positive action.

The second moment was when Stephane Richard, the Orange CEO, chose the braver of the expression options – the one that demanded his business make radical changes to its presence in the world.

And the third moment was when we received customers’ overwhelming approval of the new proposition, as well as recognition from global research company Ipsos: “this brand is customer centricity at its best.”

In 2013, Orange's CEO Stephane Richard set the company on its new trajectory to be "the first telco of the internet age." We are immensely proud to be a part of that journey.