Creating a Leadership Brand with Private WiFi

By combining business strategy, brand development, user experience design and media planning, And Partners is helping Private WiFi become a leader in the emerging online privacy space.

Online privacy issues are increasingly at the top of consumers’ minds. Words like “encryption, browsing history, and opt-out are part of our everyday vocabulary. But in January 2010—long before WikiLeaks, Google’s privacy policy, Facebook’s controversial Beacon ad program, or The Wall Street Journal’s expose of advertising tracking companies—And Partners worked with Private WiFi to develop a business strategy for a consumer-focused privacy brand.


Creating a Market-Leading Brand in Less Than Two Years

And Partners provided a turnkey marketing solution that, in just two short years, brought Private WiFi from the new kid on the block to the king of the mountain. In 2010, Private WiFi was the newest entry in an already crowded market for Personal VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). The company came to And Partners with just a name, a software prototype, and a business plan. It had no logo, no message, and no brand. In 2012, AOL chose Private WiFi to be the exclusive Personal VPN provider for its “AOL Advantage” co-op program, alongside well-established computer security brands such as Norton and McAfee.

And Partners takes full responsibility for every brand touchpoint. This includes product development, brand identity, targeting strategy, consumer messaging, website design and production, collateral materials, advertising, and planning of both social and paid media. And Partners’ varied nature of services has enabled Private WiFi to scale quickly, establishing itself as an industry-leading privacy provider in a very short time.


A Growing Market for WiFi Protection

According to In-stat, worldwide annual public WiFi hotspot sessions— in cafes, hotels, airports, and parks—are expected to reach 11 billion by 2014. But these “open networks” have inherent security problems. In fact, no public WiFi hotspot is secure, and identity theft from a hacking technique known as “snooping” is on the rise. And Partners set out to create a unique way to raise public awareness of this issue, while demonstrating that Private WiFi offers a solution: total encryption of your internet connection.


Security vs. Invisibility

Our challenge was to find a new way to talk about privacy for a generation of consumers who are empowered by technology. Our research revealed that the computer security industry had been using the same “scare” tactic for over 20 years—outdated symbols of security like locks, shields, and brick walls to protect users from shadowy hackers lurking in the dark.


And Partners recommended a different approach based on the insight that the best security is invisibility. A higher wall will eventually be scaled. A stronger lock will eventually be picked, however, “hackers can’t steal what hackers can’t see.” We created an entirely new definition of “smarter security” based on transparency and knowledge instead of fear of the unknown. We then launched a thought leadership platform to spread awareness via social media and created the company’s Private-i blog.


Designing the Product Itself

And Partners also designed iterative versions of the Private WiFi software itself. This includes not just how the product looks, but also what it does. After an analysis of other security software products, we recommended adding functionality to provide real-time privacy information that further empowers consumers. For example, the Private WiFi software gives users data on the WiFi network they’re connected to and shows how much data they’ve sent via their encrypted connection. And Partners works directly with Private WiFi’s overseas programmers, offering creative design direction throughout the product development process.


“Right Message, Right Time”: Working With WiFi Providers

To stretch the startup’s limited media dollars, And Partners recommended a media strategy that targeted consumers at the critical moment of decision: right before they join a public WiFi network. We created a highly targeted campaign of ads on the Terms & Conditions pages of WiFi providers, reaching consumers in dozens of airports and thousands of hotels around the world. This combination of the right message at the right time has helped Private WiFi grow its subscriber base. Recent feedback from online ad network JiWire has shown that Private WiFi’s ads have been five times more effective than other advertisers.

We also recommended and implemented a pilot program that allows public WiFi providers to offer Private WiFi as a service upgrade.  At the Sands Casino in Reno, Nevada, hotel guests can choose to upgrade their WiFi service using Private WiFi. This partnership allows the network provider to differentiate themselves by offering added value with an extra layer of security at a low price point. In turn, Private WiFi continues to generate awareness of privacy issues at the exact right moment; just before the user logs on to an unsecure public WiFi network.


Using Targeted Partnerships to Build the Brand

From the very beginning, we knew that the Private WiFi brand needed to not just resonate with consumers, but also other stakeholders in the Internet privacy ecosystem. And Partners recommended strategic partnerships with professional associations whose members use public WiFi hotspots to conduct business, such as MediaBistro and the Screen Actor’s Guild, as well as privacy advocates such as the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). These partnerships have given Private WiFi’s brand added credibility in the eyes of the consumer.

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