Brand Finance logo

Zain: Attaining Milestone Brand Success and Strategies for Sustained Growth and Impact

Brand Finance
04 March 2024

Zain, Kuwait's leading Telecoms brand, has seen an 11% brand value increase this year, now valued at USD3 billion. This is the first time the brands' value has surpassed 3 million dollars. Zain's commitment to its values and the community, along with its focus on sustainability, diversity, and innovation, are key drivers for its brand value success. In its efforts to redefine its brand image, Zain has also achieved an improved Brand Strength Index (BSI) rating, now at AAA-.

Interview with Bader Al Kharafi

Bader Al Kharafi,
Vice-Chairman & Group CEO, Zain

This year Zain hit the $3 billion Brand Value mark and became a AAA- brand. What are Zain’s biggest advantages in ensuring its continued brand success?

Since the introduction of the Zain brand in 2007, it has established a proud history in the Middle East region, successfully inspiring our customers as we implement our brand values of radiance, heart and belonging in all aspects of the business. Our operations are firmly embedded in the societies we operate, and our corporate sustainability activities across our eight-country footprint reinforce the fact that one of our primary objectives is to deliver meaningful connectivity and creating systemic change to empower and raise the quality of life for our communities.

Our commitment to creating a wonderful world is to lift the barriers to innovation through the introduction of digital services and introduction of cutting-edge technologies that will allow individuals, businesses, and governments within our operating areas to enhance their livelihoods, increase their digital footprint and streamline their operations to reach heightened levels of success. We believe this will keep the Zain brand relevant and bonded to the region for a long time to come.

Zain is among the first telecom providers in the region to have established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office; looking at the more recent establishment of the ‘Sustainability Innovation Hub’, how does Zain plan to progress its ESG strategy and drive sustainability development in the region?

Zain is proactively embedding its shared values into its DNA to drive our business, sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion program, while enriching our organizational purpose. As an active and transparent organization in driving ESG agendas, the company continues to execute on its five-year, 2025 corporate sustainability strategy aiming to deliver lasting social, economic, environmental, and human rights impacts across Zain’s operating companies and beyond. The annual publication of our sustainability report reflects our ongoing efforts to provide Meaningful Connectivity leading to equitable systemic change.

The four pillars of the sustainability strategy – namely Climate Change; Operating Responsibly; Inclusion; and Generation Youth; embrace and emphasize the material importance to Zain of addressing issues related to preserving the planet and safeguard it for future generations; access to connectivity and reducing the digital literacy gap; displacement; as well as employee development and social well-being, given the rise in geo political issues regionally.

We have introduced the Zain Diversity, Equity & Inclusion University (DEIU) in collaboration with IE University in Spain. This pioneering partnership allows for 2,000 Zainers to enroll in an online Digital Transformation program, with the potential of earning a Master's degree.

In a MENA region telecom first, Zain announced the role of Chief Purpose Officer (CPO). Please explain more on this role?

As a responsible listed entity accountable to multiple stakeholders, we believe corporate purpose is a strategic imperative, one that Zain must address and act on at all levels.

The CPO is responsible for mobilizing employees and effectively leading the strategic purpose of the company’s management goals and shared values in an inclusive and collaborative manner. The role also involves overseeing the company’s reason for being, and the positive impact Zain delivers for employees, stakeholders, and society. In a nutshell, the CPO will help bind the company purpose with the employee purpose, to guide, inspire, and drive innovation within and outside the organization.

Looking ahead, what future plans and strategies does Zain have in place to further strengthen its brand and continue the growth of its brand value?

In line with its 4Sight strategy, in additional to embracing digital transformation and innovation across its mobile centric operations, Zain has diversified from a traditional telecom entity by expanding to multiple new business verticals. These include the areas of digital-only operator models creating new sub-brands and partnering other leading brands; fintech (ZainCash, Tamam, Bede) and insuretech services; home automation; esports (PlayHera) and appealing entertainment content areas via our API platform (Dizlee).

In addition, Zain has regionally pioneered the sale and leaseback of its mobile towers by creating a TowerCo entity (TASC); created an international wholesale powerhouse and connectivity hub with Omantel (Zain Omantel International-ZOI); and created a disruptive and innovative entity (ZainTECH) that offers the full stack of ICT solutions (cloud, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, smart cities, drones and robotic) to governments and enterprises.

Undoubtedly, Zain has transcended its role as a mobile operator. While historically associated primarily with mobile services, we acknowledge the imperative to harness the inherent strengths of the Zain brand and adapt it to mirror the diversified digital and investment conglomerate it embodies today. Consequently, we are actively exploring avenues to reposition the Zain brand, aiming to amplify its value by capitalizing on the collective strength of the various new business entities under the widely recognized and reputable Zain umbrella.

This strategic evolution seeks to align the brand with its expanded scope and diversified portfolio, ensuring it resonates more powerfully in the contemporary market landscape.

About the Author

Brand Finance is the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy. Headquartered in the City of London, we are present in over 20 countries.

For almost 30 years we have helped companies and organisations of all types to connect their brands to the bottom line.