AT&T Has Finally Decided What To Call Itself - InformationWeek

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5/21/2007
01:45 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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AT&T Has Finally Decided What To Call Itself

We've only waited six months for the combined AT&T/Cingular Wireless entity to decide what its brand will be going forward. Looks like the AT&T globe is kicking the orange-colored Cingular Happy Jack out the door. Even though I think Cingular has better brand equity, I am glad that AT&T has stopped equivocating and finally made a decision.

We've only waited six months for the combined AT&T/Cingular Wireless entity to decide what its brand will be going forward. Looks like the AT&T globe is kicking the orange-colored Cingular Happy Jack out the door. Even though I think Cingular has better brand equity, I am glad that AT&T has stopped equivocating and finally made a decision.I can't believe that I am the only tech journalist who has struggled with what to call the former Cingular Wireless. First it was: Cingular, recently acquired by AT&T. Then it was: Cingular, AT&T's wireless unit. Next up was: AT&T's wireless unit, Cingular. We can't forget: Cingular, the new AT&T. I also saw: Cingular/AT&T and AT&T/Cingular. The last iteration I saw used across the industry: AT&T Mobility.

Today, AT&T announced that henceforth it will be known simply as AT&T. It's going to replace the Cingular brand across the country with AT&T. Never mind that just a few years ago every AT&T Wireless store was rebranded as Cingular. Looks like all that rebranding was for naught. In the press release ballyhooing the news, AT&T cites customer research that says, "that consumer awareness of AT&T -- one of the best-known, most durable and iconic brands in the world -- is high and ahead of expectations."

I don't know if I'd go that far. I mean, "Ma Bell" rings up nothing but images of stodgy, entrenched, old-school line of thinking. Cingular was a much newer, hipper brand and probably had a wider appeal to the coveted 18-34s.

Maybe this is why Marc LeFar, the chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility, recently quit AT&T. I have to imagine that there were heated discussions about what the brand should be. He obviously voted with his feet when he chose to leave the company last month.

As part of its branding initiative, AT&T is beginning to replace Cingular with the AT&T brand in voice greetings, on new customer handsets and handset screen displays, and on envelopes and statements. In addition, exteriors of most company-owned retail locations are expected to be branded as AT&T by September, with branding of agent-owned retail stores expected to be completed by January.

AT&T wants the makeover to be complete before the iPhone launches some time next month. It had better remind Apple. A quick check of the iPhone Web site still shows Cingular branding on the iPhone.

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