January 12, 2007
Branding: The Looming Reality of the AT&T iPhone
The connections between Apple, AT&T and Cingular are uncovering some branding insights.
CNN published an interesting article that brings up a sticky issue with the iPhone and its association with Cingular. Mobileburn.com says it all: "It was love at No Sight" - Cingular hopped into bed with Apple without having seen the iPhone. Steve Jobs' confidence in the product was enough for them.
It seems that in the months leading up to Macworld, Apple may have engaged in some subterfuge - possibly planting fake names with the Apple teams working on the phone to see where possible leaks might be coming from.
Now we know two names, at least: iPhone and Cingular. But at least one, and possibly both, are set to change.
Think buying the new iPhone will make you super hip, cool, and on the cutting edge? Well, you'll be an AT&T customer. Just like your grandmother was.
I am not really sure most people believe that Cingular is bouncing, or even know it because it seems to be a fact that has been lost in all the hype around the iPhone. Steve Jobs surely is not wasting his breath explaining it to his acolytes. But the new Apple phone needs an iconic brand name.
As the people across the blogosphere soak this in, we are seeing more and more postings about the Cingular rebranding being a waste of equity and money. People love the Cingular name and the happy jack logo. In addition, the Cingular name, with its huge appeal to west coast youngsters and yuppies, is an awesome match for Apple.
If Apple is U2, AT&T is like Bing Crosby. It will be intresting to watch how AT&T plans on handling the millions of demanding Apple lovers, many of whom are using the wireless service simply because they want the cool handset. This is unprecedented in the industry.
Although unprecedented in cell phones, that's not unprecedented in other categories. For instance, wrist watches have gone from being functional to being fashion statements. Think Rolex, Cartier, Bvlgari, Raymond Weil.
The Cingular brand is now embedded in the success of the handset. But, as we have pointed out before, the Cingular brand name is going to be nixed by it's owner, AT&T on Monday. By the way, almost 70% of our readers who voted said that the Cingular brand name was more valuable than AT&T.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks, expect the iPhone to send shockwaves deep through the mobile phone handset AND carrier business.
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Tracked on April 12, 2010 10:57 AM