Vodafone is to implement a major branding and marketing overhaul in a bid to position the operator at the forefront of the consumer smartphone market. In an interview with the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper yesterday, CEO Vittorio Colao confirmed that Vodafone will drop its current ‘Make the most of now’ tagline, in favour of a new slogan, ‘Power to you.’ The move is understood to be part of the largest shake-up of the operator’s marketing strategy for five years. “The centre of this company is marketing and human resources,” explained Colao. “It is not the brand talking anymore and telling the customer what to do. It is the customer who will decide.” The new branding will also coincide with the launch later this year of the operator’s new applications store – called Vodafone 360 – which is set to replace its long-standing ‘Vodafone Live’ mobile Internet services brand.

The report notes that Colao has also focused on revamping the marketing team at the UK-based group in recent months, and will next month move the company’s headquarters from Newbury in Berkshire to Paddington in West London in order to put his top executives alongside his marketing team. It has also recently appointed Wendy Becker (previously of Carphone Warehouse) as its new chief marketing officer. Major sponsorship deals – including those with the McClaren-Mercedes Formula One team and England’s national cricket team – are also under review (the latter is due to end in 2010). Commentators see the moves as a strategy to refresh a brand that is seen as struggling in its domestic market. Vodafone UK faces further pressure from the proposed merger between T-Mobile UK and Orange UK, which would push Vodafone into third place in its home market.