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Partner Communications operates under the brand name orange, which has been considered the leading brand among cellular operators ever since it was launched in Israel in 1999. It may not command the largest customer base, but its strength stems from its brand recognition, service, market positioning and a myriad of other parameters.

Orange is an international brand created in 1994 by the British division of Hutchison Telecom. In 2000, it was purchased by France Telecom, which currently operates it as its principal brand, and since 2006, the French company has also operated its Internet services under the Orange name. Since the brand was originally created by Hutchison, many of Hutchison's divisions in Asian and Pacific Rim countries operated under the Orange brand name until two years ago.

At the beginning of 2008, France Telecom served more than 123 million customers in five continents under the Orange brand name, and in Britain alone, the brand serves 17 million customers. Orange is the third largest cellular operator in Europe, and the largest Internet services provider on the continent.

But TheMarker's index of brands of the future, which measures customers' willingness to actively promote a company, found that Partner had an edge over its competitors. Some 38% of its customers were found to promote the brand (though it is worth noting that this figure is down 8.6 percentage points from last year), compared to 22.4% of Cellcom customers and 6.7% of Pelephone customers.

And indeed, word in the industry has it that while the Orange brand continues to maintain its lead position, it is slumping.

"For the past two years, nothing has been happening in Orange and nothing is working for them," a top industry source said. "Its management was replaced two years ago, and now with the sale, it will change again. The brand still occupies the leading position, but it has lost its way."