MTS / Mobile Telesystems

Bearing the Big Russian Soul

When the competition launched a slick Western brand into the market, we responded with a brand that tapped into the authentic Russian soul for an potent, contemporary reveal of the countries human story.


Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is the largest mobile operator in Russia and the CIS. The company provides services to over 61 million customers, in a license footprint area covering  86 out of 88 regions in Russia and the entire territories of Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Under the strategic leadership of London agency Brandinstinct, we took an appreciative approach to this reigonal super-brand to ensure a credible articulation of the values and vision. Over the course of several months our design team spent many weeks in Russia gathering local insights—emersing ourselves in the culture of the organisation—and attuning ourselves to the paradoxical culture of this extraordinary country.

The result was a brand with a truly vanacular heart, delivered through a potent visual identity system, that connected the brand with it’s core consumers produced an unprecedented growth in new customer aquisition. By 2013, the MTS brand was ranked as the second most valuable brand in Russia and one of the top-10 telecom brands globally.

Inherited Challenge

MTS is majority-owned by Sistema, the largest private sector consumer services company in Russia and the CIS. We were pipped-at-the-post for the ‘logo-design’ when the parent brand announced a vertical rebrand of the entire group.

We inherited a logo designed for generic application to a diverse portfolio of companies.

The challenge was clear, create a distinct visual and written identity for this reigonal behemouth.

No pretender

However, the client entrusted our team with the expression of the brand in the local market.

Adopting the authentic photo-journalistic approach we brought to implimentation, helped MTS set a critical contrast with their nearest competitor and, establish the more credible voice in the reigon.

A touch of reality

Leveraging the iconic work of reigonal photo- journalists - together with user-generated content from mobile devices - allowed us to connect the brand with staff and people at a more credible level.

The big Outdoors

Our outdoor campaigns were steeped in the everyday richness across all MTS territories. With a such a flexible visual architecture, we were able to capture seasonal, occasional and reigonal subtleties with ease, culminating in a gorgeous book (above) of professional and user-generated imagery capturing a day-in-the-life of MTS consumers.

Website and Literature System

We developed a coherent literature system that extended into instruction manuals and internal communication pieces.

The web concept evolved out of this system and inspired the digital platform we see today.