.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

AT&T to Cingular: Hit the road “Jack”

I live in Atlanta, the home of Cingular, and I was at BBDO Atlanta, Cingular’s advertising agency, when the brand was born, so I have soft spot in my heart for “Jack,” the Cingular logo. Even so, I’m not sure how I feel about AT&T dissolving the Cingular brand. In the beginning I was against it, if for no other reason than it washed a few billion dollars of brand equity down the drain. But when you look at why the Cingular brand existed in the first place, the AT&T move starts to make some sense. Cingular had two owners—BellSouth, with a 40 percent share, and SBC, with a 60 percent share. So naming it things like BellSouth Wireless, SBC Wireless or even BSSBC Wireless didn’t fly. But Cingular did. Now that AT&T owns the whole enchilada, maybe calling it AT&T is the right move.

One good thing—according to the folks at
Strategic Name Development, they’re going about the transition in the right way. “AT&T's press release assures us that its efforts will "transfer Cingular's strong brand equity to the new AT&T." I think that, as reported in AdWeek, the brand transition technique AT&T is employing in its advertising to transition from the Cingular brand to the AT&T brand will enhance its chances of a successful brand name transition.

But what about poor Jack? Will he be sold like the sock puppet? He could certainly pep up a bank or a fast food chain. Perhaps AT&T will list him on eBay. Stay tuned.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

A Ford by any other name is still a Ford

What do you call a Ford Five Hundred that doesn’t sell? A Taurus. Or at least, that’s what the folks at Ford intend to do. They are renaming the Ford Five Hundred, the full-sized sedan that replaced the Taurus in 2005, the Taurus—all in an effort to revive sales.

The logic behind this move? Here’s what Mark Fields, Ford's President of The Americas, had to say at the recent Chicago Auto Show: “Taurus has been an icon for Ford's family sedan for more than two decades, and it's time to return this powerful name to where it belongs. Consumer awareness of the Taurus name is double the Five Hundred that it's replacing.”

Fields went on to say, “By giving these vehicles the names that consumers recognize at the same time we're making significant upgrades, we're confident that even more people are going to be attracted to these great products in the future." I love it when they talk like that.

This reminds me, in a way, of when The Coca-Cola Company launched New Coke, and then, because of consumer backlash, hastily relaunched Classic Coke. Marketing-wise, it was the stuff that dreams were made of. In fact, when asked if the whole deal was simply a marketing ploy,
Roberto Goizueta, Coke’s Chairman and CEO answered, “We are not that smart, and we are not that dumb."

Time will tell where the Ford Motor Company sits on that continuum.

[For other perspectives on this subject, check out Strategic Name Development and KirkWalsh.com]

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Add a little chaos to your brand strategy

Here’s a link to a post from Dino Demopoulos in chroma that I found interesting. It’s entitled “Dynamics of Viral Marketing.” Here’s how it begins >

“My personal experience with music/DJs/underground culture, which is largely driven by word of mouth, has made me skeptical of any model that simplifies the process by which new ideas spread. I have repeatedly found that the process of finding stuff out, making things more popular, going from underground to mainstream, takes place in a very chaotic manner, and is nearly impossible to predict. The real world does not follow theory.”

It's worth a read.

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What color is your carton?

Close your eyes and picture a Tiffany and Co. gift box. Now picture a gift box from, let’s say, Zales Jewelers. Unless you just bought something there, you probably can’t recall what the Zales box looks like. That’s the power of color. Too bad so few companies take advantage of it.

Here’s one that is, however: CB2. They’re a division of Crate and Barrel, only they skew younger and hipper. Basically, they offer cool design at an affordable price. Or as they describe themselves on their Web site:

“A new destination from Crate and Barrel that dials up the fun. Smart designs, clever materials. Neat stuff, cool colors. A point of view: In the know, on the go. A ‘look what I found’ kind of place. For all the places you live. We’re one find of a store (actually two) in Chicago, and because we get constant phone calls from all over about when you’ll be able to shop on our Web site, well, here we are.”

It sounds like something their agency wrote to get the business in the first place. But it does a good job of describing the brand personality. Anyway, getting back to the color story, a package from CB2 makes a big splash on your front porch. No brown kraft shipping carton for them. They printed their carton solid chartreuse (one of three colors in their identity). Even the tape carries its own weight, imprinted with the CB2 logo in color. Bottom line: I know it’s from CB2 the moment the UPS driver takes it from the truck. What’s more, it’s a happy-looking box that makes me glad I ordered from CB2—even before I open it.

How many other Web retailers can say that about their shipping cartons? ___________________________________________________________________________________

By the way, for an in-depth look at the Tiffany and Co, brand, go to:

"Tiffany and Company, A Case Study" by Stephanie Blackburn

Says Ms. Blackburn,

“Upon realizing the strength of its brand and the image its blue box portrays, Tiffany also plans to continue launching new product lines, taking advantage of the growing popularity of branding among jewelry consumers today.”

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