AT&T Continues To Struggle With Image Problems, As It Unveils Another Rebranding


While the name Cingular is fading from the collective memory of cell phone users, despite supplanting the name with the eminently recognizable brand name AT&T (NYSE: T), the company still feels its identity as a wireless carrier needs continued refurbishing, a BusinessWeek piece suggests. In fact it seems that the AT&T name itself still suggests landline to most consumers, even though its purchase of Cingular was completed last year and the campaign heralding AT&T as the new Cingular began earlier this year. So, after all that, and casting off all-things-Cingular, AT&T is bringing back Cingular’s familiar orange hue on its billing statements, in ads, in its retail stores and, most prominently, on its website.

But a number of branding experts BW talks to feels that these sort of cosmetic changes are not likely to have much of an affect, as it mainly suggests some confusion on the initial AT&T/Cingular rebranding. Aside from looks, AT&T is facing more potential image issues stemming from its relationship with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and its iPhone. While AT&T initially received a major boost from the iPhone this summer, last week’s unveiling of the iPodTouch, which has many of the features of the iPhone, along with Apple’s perceived mishandling of its $200 price cut of the iPhone, will likely have the marketing heads at the phone company working a lot of overtime.

CNET: Mixing the “cool blues and whites” associated with AT&T and Cingular’s “warm orange” feels forced, adding that AT&T is living on a fence, a position it cannot maintain indefinitely. “AT&T is going to have to pick sides, and do it soon. Its relative weakness in the brand balance with Apple shows that it is not dealing from a position of strength, and its lack of clarity on who it is as a company is a part of that.”

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