December 30, 2005
Bloomberg is reporting that AT&T will unveil a new branding campaign, saying that the brand needs redeﬁning. Two matters stood out for me without checking with company insiders:
Chief Executive Ofﬁcer Edward Whitacre kept the AT&T name because of its international recognition and a 128-year tradition of innovation. …
AT&T will blanket Times Square in New York with the message “Your World Delivered” to convince customers the San Antonio-based company can meet all their communications needs, Shelley Almager, director of advertising, said in an interview.
“This is a substantially different company,” Almager said.
Can someone be so frank as to tell me in one sentence what is different? What is the new brand’s proposition, and does the new slogan act as a useful rallying point for such a large company?
And if the advertising campaign is to signal a difference, does it not go against the CEO’s decision to retain its name due to its ‘tradition of innovation’?
Perhaps it would have been wiser to say, ‘We’re different because everything about us is innovative.’
Follow that up with this, if needed: ‘We want this branding campaign to reinforce our innovative values. People have forgotten that AT&T has been an innovator since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Now, with SBC, we actually have the potential to innovate like crazy.
‘It’s that innovation we’re driving through every aspect of our company. Not only do we have the assets to do it, we’re implementing it in the way we behave.’
Then follow that through with new staff programmes, casual dress, ways of working with customers on developments and brand direction (‘How can we be innovative in solving your problem today?’), and a cheeky campaign that serves as an internal and external trigger for a revitalized ﬁrm.
It’s too easy for a non-American to be cynical about a campaign from a large American corporation. Those in this branding profession often joke about how rooted in the 1950s most corporate campaigns are in the States.
And Mr Whitacre’s press release comment at the time of the new logo, which he might not have authored, is very much in the 1950s’ vein: ‘The revitalized mark symbolizes these attributes—innovation, integrity, quality, reliability and unsurpassed customer care.’ In other words, here are some buzzwords. It means nothing. Because every other telco promises these things. Come to think of it, almost every other company in the world promises these things.
Let’s hope this will not follow the same dull route. After all, AT&T has the technology through which many people will be reading this blog entry. It seems logical that it is the company that will implement a globally advanced campaign, especially when you read the assets it possesses. It is possible—it just needs to communicate this a lot more succinctly and directly. permalink
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