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Summary:

The changing pieces on the great telecom chess board has brought the grand old name, AT&T, into the lime light again. SBC, which had acquired AT&T quickly renamed itself AT&T. Now post BellSouth merger, even Cingular is going to go with AT&T brand name. Wow… Cingular […]

The changing pieces on the great telecom chess board has brought the grand old name, AT&T, into the lime light again. SBC, which had acquired AT&T quickly renamed itself AT&T. Now post BellSouth merger, even Cingular is going to go with AT&T brand name. Wow… Cingular brand name cost nearly $4 billion to build-up, and it could be gone….. just like that, just like those dumb Clemens-Johnson ads! A lot of people think it is a dumb idea, and well would make the phone company…. seem like the phone company!

To give up Cingular is a mistake,” especially in favor of AT&T, “my father’s brand of telephony,” said Jonathan Asher, president, Dragon Rouge USA, a branding and design consultancy. “I’m not sure how much value or what AT&T brings to the party.”

You can argue against the decision, but from the triple-play perspective, and the sole reason why SBC has been gobbling up the rivals, it makes absolute sense. AT&T as a unified brand – for wireless and wireline service – makes absolute sense. I have always maintained the brand alone was a reason for SBC to buy. But looks like I am in minority here.

Karl Barnhart, managing director, CoreBrand, New York, a former AT&T agency, agreed that changing the Cingular name “doesn’t make sense.” Cingular’s brand is “relevant for the younger audience; it’s a fun, hip, interesting, dynamic—everything you don’t think about AT&T.”

Clearly, AT&T would have to do a better job of marketing, designing their logo and image. The current logo and symbol of AT&T is just old and boring, and dowdy. What do you think? This AT&T-Cingular swap a good idea? Love to get your thoughts on this issue.

  1. I don’t like blue. When I think of AT&T, I think of a huge corporation. Corporations do not get much love.
    I hated AT&T’s customer service. So I have a personal hatred towards the brand name. :)

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  2. Agreed. At least in metro Seattle, AT&T Wireless has always been viewed as the worst of the carriers. Not just from a signal perspective but customer service as well. I can’t judge them because I’ve never used them, but that’s the feeling I always got from passing conversations about cell phone service over the last several years.

    I’m not sure why they wouldn’t just keep both brands alive and use one in a completely different way than the other. The Cingular brand, for instance, could be marketed with more much risk given that if things ended up going badly, they could fold it. There’s nothing wrong with one company branding two services differently in my opinion. It’s brand diversification. Customers many times don’t even make the connection that they are dealing with the same company.

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  3. Christopher Wallace Wednesday, May 3, 2006

    The whole point of the “new AT&T” moniker is that it ISN’T your father’s telecom. If $2 billion is what it takes to place their new logo in front of 55 million people several times per day, then it can only strengthen the AT&T brand as a whole and increase the likelihood that these former Cingular customers will purchase other services (i.e. broadband, television, etc.) from AT&T. God bless ‘im, Ed Whitacre is no dummy.

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  4. I wouldn’t mind them choosing the AT&T (or at&t) name over Cingular if I didn’t hate the new at&t brand execution so much. Every time I see it on a truck or an ad it makes me wonder why they chose that direction and when they are going to realize their mistake. Such potential, wasted.

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  5. I think they will be proven wrong on this decision. It would make more sense to keep the cingular brand and probably have a few more too. They should just be selling to different market segments. If there is overlap in the customers, switch them around.

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  6. …I have never liked the fact that AT&T uses the Death Star as its logo.

    T

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  7. They’ll also lose their current NASCAR sponsership on car #31 if they change. When Nextel, now Sprint, took over as the title sponser of NASCAR, one clause stipulated that there would be no cars sponsered by rival telecom companies.

    The existing Alltel and Cingular sponserships were grandfathered in … they could stay. If Cingular changes to AT&T wireless, they lose the grandfather clause.

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  8. Turn Cingular into an MVNO, it is easily repositioned towards the youth segment. There are many handsets that would fit into this scenario such as the Nokia N Series, SE Walkman and Cybershot that the new ATT may not want to carry. This is also how Boost operates.

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  9. Jacob Varghese Thursday, May 4, 2006

    I think the entire company should be rebranded as Cingular.

    “AT&T” sounds so dated.

    “Cingular” has a good customer service record and has a very modern reputation.

    Cingular Home
    Cingular Internet
    Cingular Wireless

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  10. AT&T didn’t have exactly a stellar rep for service or competitive pricing in Texas either when it comes to wireless or network quality. Cingular is/was great, at least around Dallas. Cingular is a cool brand … much more like Apple. AT&T … well that just seems like another remnant up there with MCI and the other large telcos or yore that are great for the enterprise but fail miserably when it comes to my $50 a month DSL phone line.

    Granted, that’s probably just my perception based on history. I’d say their customer service and offerings have actually gotten better post merger. Definitely not crazy about the AT&T logo update as it looks very 1999 or like the CEOs high school kid with a Mac reworked it.

    In the end though, I bet they pull it off quite well even with arguable blase logo design, loss of “Cingular” and all.

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