The real clincher for AT&T's buyout of BellSouth was its desire to control Cingular, their wireless joint venture. Cingular, you might remember, bought AT&T Wireless back in 2004, and spent a good chunk of change on rebranding efforts to make consumers aware of the change. Given that, it was a little curious to see the news that AT&T plans to quickly phase out the Cingular brand as it seeks to unite all its units, services and products under the AT&T name. But it wasn't just the money that made it strange, it's also the fact that the Cingular brand represents something very different than the staid, old (albeit well-known) AT&T one. Cingular's brand is all about wireless, and represents something much more forward-looking than the old fixed-line mentality AT&T evokes. However, a marketing research firm has added a little more fuel to the fire with a report saying the Cingular brand is much more popular than the AT&T one. Granted, its metrics sound a bit fuzzy, but it reports that AT&T is the least talked about telecom brand, and when it is mentioned, fewer of those mentions are positive than any other telecom brand in the US as well. Things get even stranger when you consider how AT&T said that AT&T Wireless had broken its brand by offering such poor customer service and gaining such a bad reputation. It's hardly clear why AT&T thinks it's got more to gain by consolidating everything under its less popular brand name. While the AT&T brand may have a lot of recognition, the thoughts that follow aren't necessarily good ones.
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