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June 28, 2007

Brand Naming: Sprint Drops Nextel Name

SprintSprint Nextel seems to be borrowing a page out of AT&T's brand naming handbook by dropping the Nextel name in its "Sprint Ahead" campaign and its NASCAR sponsorship. Starting next year, the Nextel Cup will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and at least one blogger feels fans are fed up with the constant changes to the name of the race.

Many analysts seem wary of this move, since Sprint Nextel's marketing to date has created a meaningless brand name for many customers.

iPhoneThe new campaign is designed to focus on the customer and not the phone, explaining on how wireless improves people's lives. Part of this is the launch of the 'whyPhone' initiative which is an early response to the pressure the Apple iPhone will be putting on the company.

I covered the Sprint Nextel name change awhile ago and I am not surprised that the company is shortening its name to Sprint.

Sprint is a much stronger consumer brand name and has a rich heritage, while Nextel is primarily a B2B brand.

The familiar Nextel yellow color that Sprint has been using will be dropped in favor of "neon-hued streaks of light." Sprint has made a conscientious decision, I think, to walk away from Nextel's equity, hoping to gain improved brand perceptions and brand equity among the larger consumer market.

It strikes me that Sprint is tinkering with the packaging rather than what's in the package. By that I mean their unfortunate deterioration of service.

Sprint's new campaign feels like the classic Pepsi Generation strategy. Once a category becomes commoditized with little product differentiation, like cola or cell phones, the focus becomes more on the user and the user experience. I believe this is a sound strategy but takes massive spending and time and more time to be effective. Time will tell if Sprint is making this type of commitment.

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Posted by William Lozito at June 28, 2007 10:01 AM
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