Branding is necessary, but re-branding is more than necessary. This could be the idea that we would form if we observe the branding activities of AT&T during the last few years.When he invented telephone, Graham Bell was not embarrassed, but he would be, if he listens to the story of branding strategies in AT&T.
With every merger it had tried to incorporate, a new logo, in order to encompass the values of merging companies and to create a new corporate identity.
The company which started as Bell Telephone in 1870s became American Telephone & Telegraph in 1885. n 1889, the first Bell logo (shown) was designed by the company's general superintendent, Angus Hibbard.
In the fifth Bell logo, a solid circle replaced the earlier concentric circles, while the name AT&T was ditched. Local companies such as Southwestern Bell now added their names to the right side or below the bell. When in 1982, AT&T had an issue regarding the logo,patents and monopoly, AT&T was forced to divest into seven companies. A new logo was given for AT&T, with a striped sphere suggesting global connectivity (subtly focused on the U.S.) and it was regarded as one of the nice logo designs. Cingular Wireless was created in 200o by SBC communications and BellSouth, which was given a logo- jack in orange!..as a new and enticing identity. The sphere became a globe later with its merger with SBC. Now, AT&T is again re-branding, by adding orange hue into it.
Is it necessary to change the identities often? A question which often arise during branding has to be answered. When companies form a new identity, after merger, should logo designs undergo a change? Will customers notice change in logo designs and appreciate them?
They may have underestimated how much equity was in the Cingular brand and are now trying to bring it back," says Rob Giampietro, one of the founders of the New York-based design studio, Giampietro+Smith. Simply attempting to blend the two further could confuse customers more, not less. "It suggests some lack of brand leadership," he warns. "What you could end up with is a 'bizzaro' version of what they think their customers' vision of the brand is." And that, as all branding experts preach, is a surefire way to appeal to no one in an attempt to attract everyone.
According to me, it had eclipsed Cingular brand, losing the leverage and significance among consumers, the campaign which says - "AT&T works in more places like Chilondoscow" . It catches the attention, it is likely that they miss the necessary meaning. Will consumers connect with the strange and unfamiliar names like New Sanfrakota (New York, San Francisco, South Dakota) and Newbosmento (New York, Boston, Sacramento)!..
The advertising campaign will cost them a lot. But will it result in a mistaken identity and diluted brand image?