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See ya Cingular, yo AT&T

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We’d be hard pressed to ever admit that we would actually miss any telecom moniker, but still. . . . AT&T’s announcement this morning that it’s starting the final phase of its rebranding efforts from Cingular to AT&T, does make us pause. The Cingular brand, which Om says it cost nearly $4 billion to build-up, just fell into the dustbin of the rare well-known and now retired brand names.

While everyone has been waiting for them to make the change over, not everyone agrees it’s a good move. Analysts say that AT&T was disappointed with last quarter’s postpaid subscribers adds and partially attributes that to the re-branding efforts of its mobile service. That’s why the company is using the iPhone to put the seal on the branding play.

But a lot of folks also think Cingular would be a better branding umbrella than the staid phone company-conveying AT&T. Including our readers — 54% of them say Cingular is a better choice, while only 28% like AT&T better.

While the company definitely needs one brand for its quadruple play, our readers think Cingular says the young, wireless mobile user far better than the historically named American Telephone and Telegraph company. AT&T says positive things like corporate, and secure, but also traditional technology, ie phones — yuck.

I think the rebranding is a mistake and a result of both group think and loyalty to the old days of telecom. The fact that most of the senior management at AT&T are lifelong telecommunications professionals influences all of their decisions. — Sean

This is a huge mistake. Cingular’s brand is the antithesis of AT&T. It’s personal, individual, young and hip. When I think of AT&T I think of my grandmother, long distance and rotary phones — Matt Dickman

Read similar comments for these two posts: Cingular vs AT&T: The Name Game, and Cingular is AT&T for now.

Others see no other options for AT&T:

There was no way they were going to rename the entire company Cingular (there would have never been a Cingular if SBC had been able to acquire Bellsouth back in the Clinton days), so what else were they going to do, really. — Jesse Kopelman

Our readers have even suggested a Cingular MVNO might be an interesting move. Anything to keep the name in play it seems. OK, maybe our mobile-loving readers are a little biased.

Maybe the AT&T rebrand will go the way of Prince — confused consumers just stick to the original. We’ll have to see how their subscriber numbers do over the next few quarters.

6 Responses to “See ya Cingular, yo AT&T”

  1. Roxann

    I have to admit, I’m going to miss the Cingular Jack. I’ve been working as a manager with National Business Services for almost a year now, and since AT&T started changing the name customers are so confused. Some of the reference us as “Cingular, AT&T or whoever you are now”. Cingular put so much effort into changing AT&T’s wireless to Cingular, I think it was a horrible business move to change it right back to AT&T.

  2. I think the name change in completely appropriate as it underscores that the monster cut apart during the Eighties is back together again.

    All we need now is Upton Sinclair and a couple of the other ‘muckrakers’ from an earlier era to document the atrocity.

    It’s like old times.

  3. The Death Star returns! Here’s a brief history on Saul Bass’ 1984 “globe” logo that he had tried to sell to other companies, prior to AT&T buying it, all of whom rejected it for looking too much like the fictional galactic Empire’s giant space station:

    “…And Bass was ready. I’ve heard from more than one person that Bass had tried without success to sell a striped globe logo to several previous clients (or even “every client that came along” as one insider told me). This may not be true, but there is no doubt that Bass liked round logos with horizontal stripes: witness Continental Airlines and Minolta, to name two. But with the new AT&T, he had at last the big client ready for the big idea. Their logo would be nothing but a sphere, a circle crossed with lines modulated in width to create the illusion of dimensionality. And this client bought it, perhaps because like the bell, this new, seemingly abstract image had a reassuringly literal meaning; at AT&T’s online brand center, the logo is described as “a world circled by electronic communications.” It’s not just a logo, it’s a picture of a globe girded by wires and cables. Some people saw even more: in some circles, the sphere was nicknamed the “The Death Star.”


  4. I think one of the biggest reasons AT&T is getting rid of the Cingular name is simply marketing. It’ll be a lot cheaper for them to advertise all of their services in one AT&T commercial than it would be to pay for an AT&T commercial along with a Cingular commercial. Personally though, I do prefer the Cingular name and also think the jack splat logo looks better than just the blue globe.

  5. Jesse Kopelman

    Why all the sentimentality over Cingular? It was a good name, but so were CellularOne, Voicestream, Omnipoint, and 360 Communications. Meanwhile, how much was spent over the decades building equity into the Ninex, Bell Atlantic, Bellsouth, GTE, Ameritech, Pac Bell, and other RBOC brands that have fallen away? If the past 20 years of telco have taught us anything, no brand is forever.