Cingular Vs AT&T: The Name Game

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.