A true pioneer of the consumer-centric brand, giffgaff has led the way since 2008 as the first ever crowd-sourced mobile network. Back then, as now, MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator) were nothing new. Piggybacking a more established network to offer a discounted price plan had been building in popularity. But no one else had tried anything as audacious as this. So when an executive at UK-based mobile giant, O2, came up with the idea of a mobile network on which customers could “earn” talktime and texts, we jumped at the chance to incubate it and partner with them.
Our first task was to figure out what this thing really was. What could they offer? How did it work? What were we going up against? At the time, mobile networks in the UK were dominated by a few behemoths: Orange, Vodafone and O2. Each one offered a blind plan, expensive calls and slow internet. We decided to put consumers’ conversational destinies in their own hands by creating the first mobile network run by its customers. Could these customers actually have a say in how the business was run? Make decisions on questions like “how much should plans be?”, “What’s on those plans?”, “What technologies should the company invest in next?”.
Could it be the first ever “people-powered” business?
And the currency? Talk time. The more involved a customer got with the running of the business, the more minutes, texts and data they would get in return. We named it giffgaff from the Scottish term for mutual giving. An applicable concept if ever we saw one.
We created a disruptive brand identity. The monotoned competitors who’d long since loomed over the population with a single red or orange or blue fist saw a multicolored hoard trounce them in awareness. The rainbow of pixelated color represented the diversity of our customer base. Its inclusion. That each person would be accounted for. It was our rebellion and we would use it to overthrow the empire.
It covered the website and all of our branded materials.
For the soft launch, we created a number of fun, interactive “tools” that future customers could hire and use to amass credit, giving us great earned publicity in the process.
For the official launch, we went hard after “The Man”. The establishment that had been fleecing our potential customers for years and using their hard earned cash on cigars, strippers and fancy foods.
The public responded fast, and rallied behind the cause. As news of the rebellion spread, so did the brands’ values. We built a massive customer base in a short space of time and set them to work: manning customer service, marketing us via word of mouth and generally running the company.
giffgaff became one of the first online communities built by a brand. We created forums and fostered conversation. The business depended on the opinion, inclusion and hard work of the community it had created. We celebrated this community, rewarded them with minutes, texts, data and celebrity status in a series of films that brought the most relevant community conversations to life.
Didn’t understand it? Don’t worry, you weren’t supposed to.
But our community loved it.
Over the years that followed, we took giffgaff from a quirky startup to a serious contender. We built powerful partnerships and continued to grow, becoming recognized nationally as one of the UK’s three top mobile networks and a blueprint for future companies to follow.
The original idea and thinking behind the brand spawned numerous great ideas, and counting.
Within its first year of operation, giffgaff won two industry awards, the Forrester Groundswell Award in November, also the Most Innovative Community Award at the Social CRM Customer Excellence Awards. In November, giffgaff was nominated for the Marketing Society’s Brand of the Year.
In June 2012, giffgaff was named best MVNO in the Mobile Industry Awards.
In 2014, Giffgaff won the Which? best telecom services provider award.
Since 2014, giffgaff has won the uSwitch Network of the Year, for 3 consecutive years.
In 2018, giffgaff won consumer watchdog uSwitch’s Network of the Year, Best Network Customer Service and Best Value SIM only.