Just Lucky?

On the subject of brands, and especially the change (or abandonment) of a brand identity and the adoption of a new persona.

I’m struck by the difference in approaches between two recent prominent examples. In California, Albertsons bought out Lucky stores and merged them all under their own name. Recently however, they have changed back to Lucky. They did that, almost overnight it seemed and immediately started talking about Lucky brand values. Albertsons dies overnight.
On their website there is a single mention “There are 72 Albertsons stores targeted for conversion to the Lucky banner; they are located throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties.”

Compare and contrast.

AT&T bought Cingular (a brand I happened to feel had great equity and had succeeded in separating itself from the pack of wireless carriers. They were (are!) far from perfect, but much better than the rest in terms of brand equity, promise and customer experience.

Once AT&T (a much more stodgy brand, with much negative equity, in my mind) bought Cingular, they proceeded to spend the next year of more telling me (and everyone else) that I was now an AT&T customer (formerly Cingular) customer. Did they think I didn’t know? I’m actually not sure what they were thinking of. It seems to me the worst example of how to change a brand, that is, keep telling people what it used to be! I had a much more positive view of Cingular than I do of AT&T and the constant reinforcement is like rubbing my nose in it.

Worse, on AT&T’s web (as the first entry under About US) is this:

Following AT&T’s merger with BellSouth in December 2006, Cingular Wireless is now solely owned by AT&T. Now that branding from Cingular to AT&T is complete, the new AT&T represents the largest wireless company in the United States, with more than 65 million subscribers who use the nation’s largest digital voice and data network. Cingular customers can rest assured that they will continue to receive the quality of products and services to which they’ve grown accustomed—exclusive cell phones and mobile devices, cutting-edge technology, and a large selection of rate plans.”

So, TWO years after the merger is made, they are still promoting the name. Read the second sentence “Cingular customers…….”

Somebody, somewhere is being paid big bucks to perpetuate this branding mess. Talk about confusing. It is nothing short of abysmal. AT&T (formerly CINGULAR) senior managers should be fired for allowing it happen. They should buy dinner for the brand folks advising and implementing the Lucky brand values and listen to how it should be done They get it, and they know how to execute.

If you care about your brand, make sure that the brand values are clear, clearly articulated again and again (and that you live up to them!!!) and don’t talk about what you used to be, to do, or espouse.

And if your consultant recommends anything less, fire them and come and talk to me.

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