Steven Day - Leading the mobile revolution

The VP of brands & comms at Everything Everywhere on how he is helping the brand stand out.

Always at hand: Steven Day of Everything Everywhere
Always at hand: Steven Day of Everything Everywhere

Everything Everywhere became the UK's largest telecoms company overnight, when Orange and T-Mobile merged on 1 July 2010.

V-P brands & comms Steven Day says this created a seismic shift internally: 'Suddenly, we had to start thinking as though we were in front. People now expect us to have an opinion on everything because we are the biggest.'

Almost a year on, the firm is still coming to terms with its staggering size - more than half of the UK population uses the mobile phone network every day. And Day, 43, plans to make sure that Everything Everywhere leads from the top.

His first priority is to put the right PR support and branding strategy in place.

GolinHarris/Weber Shandwick, Nelson Bostock and The Red Consultancy are all currently vying for an account worth more than £1.5m, a shortlist whittled down from 45 submissions.

The selected agency will be in place before the 18-month branding strategy review concludes this autumn, when the company will decide whether to keep one brand, keep both, or launch extra brands.

The firm has been testing options with consumers, including launching five Everything Everywhere high-street stores. Day says this 'live testing' is a bold move because 'traditionally, our industry conducts market research in private, in basements in London at night'.

The T-Mobile brand is also receiving investment to bring it in line with the success of Orange. The much-lauded 'Welcome Home' ad is an example of this work to drive brand recognition. Day says the ad also demonstrates the integrated approach he advocates, explaining the PR team was involved in the whole process.

'I'm quite agnostic about which marketing discipline is important. I start from a neutral point of what we are trying to achieve and then consider the full range of tools I have to help me do that,' he says.

Day was a journalist for 11 years, including as deputy editor of the Sunday Express. It was during his time there that he met Virgin boss Richard Branson's then right-hand man Will Whitehorn.

Now Loewy chairman and on the board at Stagecoach, Whitehorn says he noticed Day was very commercially minded, with an entrepreneurial streak and a love of gadgets.

He later hired him to help launch Virgin Mobile. 'Steven is a great character, full of energy and lots of fun to be with. He is a good journalist's PR because he comes from the profession and understands it well,' says Whitehorn.

Indeed, Day has all of the traits of Virgin alumni - friendly with an accessible way of speaking.

He explains how the relationship between society and mobiles has changed. 'For most people, their mobile phone is now the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing at night.

The devices are mobile remote controls for your life. They are always with you,' he says. 'The world is moving away from the desktop to these windows on the world.'

So how can networks differentiate themselves in a saturated market, when firms are already offering consumers added value through entertainment-related benefits such as Orange Wednesdays?

Day believes staying ahead of the curve on technology is important.

Everything Everywhere is about to launch a service with Barclays, where people can use their mobile phone to pay for small purchases in outlets, such as Pret A Manger, by waving their device in front of a contactless reader.

But with these new technologies, Day also believes trust will become more significant as individuals become increasingly concerned about which firms they deal with, and who has access to their data.

Day is also keen to harness the firm's huge reach to do good things. Last month, Orange launched an iPhone app called 'Do Some Good', which allows users to carry out tasks that help charities in less than five minutes, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

This is not pure altruism. Day argues it creates a brand-halo effect: 'Personally, I believe quite strongly that the modern generation is disaffected with old-style capitalism.

' The most modern successful businesses are those that are transparent and interactive with their customers. They bring customers with them on their journey.

Ultimately, people want to deal with organisations that are trying to do something positive.'

Under Day's leadership, Everything Everywhere is trying to do just that.

CV
2010 V-P brands & comms, Everything Everywhere
2007 Chief of staff, brand & comms, Orange
2006 Consultant, Sulis Ventura
1999 Corporate affairs director, Virgin Mobile
1999 Deputy editor, Sunday Express
1997 Business editor, Sunday Express
1995 Money editor, Daily Express
1992 Reporter, Sunday Express
1990 Editor, Maxwell Publishing, Headway
1988 Editorial production assistant, Telepress Publishing

STEVEN DAY'S TURNING POINTS

What was your biggest career break?

I like to treat every new job as a break. Each new role is an adventure in itself. But notable changes: getting my first shot, straight out of college, at being a proper writer, with freelance pieces in Decanter, the wine magazine; my first Fleet Street role on the Sunday Express, and the move to Virgin.

Have you had a notable mentor?

Will Whitehorn, comms legend and all round good bloke. When I joined Virgin, Will was Richard Branson's right hand, guided me around the empire, and taught me a lot. Supportive, encouraging, knowledgeable, but above all, always such a huge laugh.

What advice would you give to someone climbing the career ladder?

Surround yourself with brilliant people. You'll manage others. Learn how to do that. Be a good boss, and always employ people better than you. They make you look great.

What qualities do you prize in new recruits?

Energy, and the inherent sense that anything's possible. I love that freshness of approach. It makes you rethink your own view of things.

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