The "My Operator" Trend in Self-Care Apps: A Critical Take

Tuomas Pippola
February 29, 2024
4 min


In today's digital age, telecom operators are keen on offering mobile apps that engage users and simplify connectivity management. While exploring these apps, I came across a prevalent naming trend. However, it’s a trend that raises eyebrows and questions about innovation and consumer-centricity.

Analysis of Operator App Names

In my analysis of over 200 telecom apps, a clear naming pattern emerged. Names like "My Airtel," "My Optus," "My TIM," and "myAT&T" are omnipresent. In fact, 29% of these apps incorporate the "My" prefix followed by the operator's name, including “MySafaricom”. Add international variations like Mein, Mi, Meu, Mitt, and Oma, and the percentage jumps to 49%. Essentially, half of these apps sport the “My Operator” label.

When I add all apps using operator names as is - like “Orange SA”, “dtac”, or “T-Mobile” - the percentage jumps to over 80%. And proudly calling it T-Mobile for example, is consistent to the brand, while misses possibility to brand the app even sharper.

But is this naming convention innovative? Does it resonate with consumers or merely reflect a company-centric approach?

Source: Pexels. Shvets Production

Reflections on the Naming Convention

The "My" prefix makes sense for brands like BMW or Siemens where the app relates to a product owned by the user. "My BMW" app controls your car, and "my Siemens" might relate to your fridge. But when it comes to telecom services, I don't own the operator. The naming, therefore, feels out of place.

It's essential to realise that users primarily want reliable connectivity. Or they want to purchase more of it, or use less of it. While self-care functions such as checking balance, data usage, bill payments, and purchasing add-ons are appreciated, the focus should be on service excellence. Especially, consumers do not want to report problems or want to "self-care" the problems; they just want the service to work seamlessly.

I get the idea on the push for self-service — it empowers consumers, offers convenience, reduces costs, and potentially enhances the customer experience. But emphasising the “self-care” and app over its single value adding feature is not the right approach. It is a self-centred - not consumer centric - approach.

Instead of touting self-care apps, talk about the tangible benefits these functionalities bring. Talk about one thing that the app excels at. One example being Data Clock -app. Brilliantly executed naming and branding.

For us the goal is straightforward: Provide users simply engaging connections. Let them simply connect, whether it's unlimited internet for a few minutes, an hour, a day, or a month. And deliver it.

A Broader Perspective

The "My" naming trend isn't exclusive to telecom. Other industries, especially utilities, exhibit the same pattern. For instance, energy companies have apps like “MyHelen” and “Mein E.ON.” But telecom operators should be vary of treading the utility path too closely in branding. They should not become utility, but turn vital connectivity into value, which they can capture.

Humour me: Imagine consultants selling this naming approach to national sports teams. We'd be cheering for teams like “My Finland Basketball Team” or “Mia Squadra Italiana di Calcio.” But there’s certain charm in names like Susijengi, Helmarit, Gli Azurri, and Les Bleus - not to mention the rhythm in Reggae Bouyz.

In Conclusion

Branding and naming go beyond mere labels. They embody the soul of a service or product. As we cheer for the All Blacks this weekend, let's remember the essence of true branding and aim for authenticity, not just trends.

Images: Pexels. Kudos to Cottonbro for hero image. For shvets production the embedded image

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