Business Case Studies, Brands & Branding and Private Labels Case Study, Bharti Enterprises’ New Conglomerate Brand Identity: The Strategic Positioning Challenges

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Brands & Branding and Private Labels Case Study

Case Title:

Bharti Enterprises’ New Conglomerate Brand Identity: The Strategic Positioning Challenges

Publication Year : 2009

Authors: Deepti Srikanth & Priti Krishnan

Industry: Telecom


Case Code: BBP0111

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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This case study’s primary objective is to debate and discuss on: Does it make sense for a single-business firm from an emerging country like India, to transform itself into a conglomerate when the reverse trend is witnessed in other countries – both developed as well as developing? With the inception of Bharti Telecom (Bharti) in 1985, Sunil Bharti Mittal laid the foundations of an organisation that would emerge as India’s ‘telecom conglomerate giant’. The company made a humble beginning with the manufacture of push button handsets. However, 1992 marked the turn of events for Bharti. The liberalisation of the Indian telecom sector in that year unleashed numerous opportunities for domestic and international players to tap the lucrative Indian telecom market. Notwithstanding its small size, Bharti plunged into the bidding war for cellular licenses, successfully capturing the license for providing cellular network service in New Delhi (Delhi). Making a mark with its brand, Airtel, in the Delhi market, Bharti was confident of a triumphant journey. Contradictory to its aspirations, this early victory was followed by a string of downturns. The company lost most of the subsequent cellular bids and found itself in troubled waters. Nevertheless, competitors’ inability to exploit their winning cellular bids proved a boon to Bharti. The eagerness of these companies to sell their cellular licenses to Bharti brought the company back into limelight. Banking on the opportunity, the company spread its cellular service to new regions in the country. From being a handset manufacturer, Bharti transformed itself into a full cellular service provider with a whopping 4.5 million customers in March 2003. However, the company is not content with being only a ‘telecom conglomerate’. In 2008, to gratify its growing aspirations, Bharti declared its intentions of becoming India’s ‘finest conglomerate by 2020’. Equipped with a youthful logo and new brand identity, Bharti is determined to unveil another success story. However, many challenges lie ahead.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To analyse the critical success factors in building conglomerates and to understand the role of brand building in a conglomerate vis-a-vis a single-business firm
  • To analyse and understand the factors responsible for making Bharti’s Airtel the No. 1 telecom brand in India
  • To debate on the efficacy of Bharti’s decision to convert itself from a single-business firm into a conglomerate
  • To examine the challenges that Bharti would face in operating as a conglomerate when a reverse trend is being witnessed all across the globe.

Keywords : Rebranding, Repositioning, Strategic Postioning, Conglomerate, Branding, Network Operator, Retail, Diversification, Vision, Airtel, Bharti, Bharti Televentures


  • The Bharti Group from 1985 to 2008: The Making of a Telecom Conglomerate
  • Features Offered by Airtel's Mobile Connection over the Years
  • Bharti's Holding Structure – December 2000 (in %)
  • Bharti Airtel's Accolades
  • Different Businesses under the Bharti Brand

  • Conglomerates: Global and Indian Giants
  • Global Conglomerates
  • Indian Conglomerates
  • Bharti's Rebranding Strategies: Building a Conglomerate
  • Core Values of Bharti's New Brand
  • History of Bharti Enterprises

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