Monday, November 21, 2005

What's in a Brand Name?

We marketers must have a screw loose. We regard branding as our domain. We're the experts. Follow us.

Well, the marketers at SBC (aka Cingular and/or AT&T Wireless) take the cake for this branding non-sense:

Engadget reports that SBC, which was one of the Baby Bells spun off from AT&T during the big break up of 1984, is officially changing its name to AT&,T and they want to unify all the branding — but man, are things getting confusing.

As you’ll recall, last year Cingular snapped up AT&T Wireless, which had been spun off from AT&T in 2001 for the princely sum of $41 billion. They then spent the better part of the past year spending tons of time and money trying to eliminate the AT&T Wireless brand and integrate its network, subscribers, and services into Cingular.

The integration is pretty much done (or close to it), but now they’re going to go through all that again, except in reverse, which means that some of you out there will go from being AT&T Wireless subcribers, to Cingular subscribers, only to become AT&T Wireless subscribers all over again.
What must the stockholders think of this clever marketing campaign? Does this give you any sense of confidence as a customer that your cell phone provider knows where it's headed and that they will take care of your needs? It sure puts a big question marke in my mind.


At 9:52 PM, Anonymous natalie said...

I use Cingular wireless as my cell phone provider and I am familiar with them buying out AT&T. However, I had not heard about them changing the original AT&T Wireless subscribers back to AT&T subscribers. Talk about confusing a customer.

What type of strategies is Cingular using? I do not know if confusing their customers is the best idea. I agree that changing the name back and forth could hurt some of the confidence Cingular has strived to achieve over the last year.

I don’t know exactly what is going on inside the organization but you would think it would be better to pick the name and stick with it. If they have to change the name again I suggest they give us their customers a clear explanation of why they keep flip flopping the name.

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Leigh Ann said...

I also used to be a Cingular customer and I remember when they changed over to AT&T. It seems like a lot of money has been exchanged lately over changing a company name. I'm not realy sure why Cingular may be reversing back to AT&T.

AT&T has been a recognized and well-established company for many years. We have used their landline service for as long as I can remember. I was thinking that Cingular might be going back to AT&T's name because they want to offer package deals with wireless and landline service. Maybe AT&T's reputation and brand name is better? Wireless companies aren't always the best with customer service, so maybe that has something to do with the change.

I agree that I would question my service with Cingular if I were still a customer or stockholder. Not explaining the switch to customers is what makes things questionable. I'm not sure if confusing people is the best marketing strategy.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Gary said...

I've never been an AT&T wireline customer, so I don't know what the perception or the reality is with that side of the branding (other than the obvious, that AT&T is a well-known brand).

I DO know, as a former AT&T wireless customer, that AT&T wireless developed a horrible reputation (well-deserved, in my opinion) and lost a record number of customers before being bought out, and for that reason I think it's a mistake to change it back.

IMO "Brand equity" & "name recognition" are not the same thing. AT&T has a lot of the latter, I don't know that it's enjoyed a lot of the former for years.


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