Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

28 November 2005

AT&T reinvigorated

So, when AT&T and SBC became one flesh, they decided to ditch the Saul Bass AT&T logo and go with a new one. They did it for all the reasons you would guess: they want to be fresh, communicate vitality and all that stuff. Instead of really developing a new strategy, or maybe hiring freshness consultants, they decided a new logo would do the trick.

the new att logo

From the press release:

The revitalized mark symbolizes these attributes—innovation, integrity, quality, reliability and unsurpassed customer care… The new logo reinvigorates the AT&T globe.


If someone tells me that they need a new logo, immediately I say “why?”. I resist change here. Usually I’m all for change, I love tweaking and adjusting my routine to incorporate new things, but logos are different. To change a logo, I firmly believe that you need to determine that there is something very wrong with the old logo. Changing a logo is expensive and it waters down your corporate image. You are telling the entire population of earth that you aren’t to be known by the old look and that they should adjust their thinking to the new look.

Have you ever dyed your hair, shaved your head or done something to radically change your appearance? Do you remember how shocking it is to look yourself in the mirror, even a day or two later? Can you imagine how hard it is for people to recognize you in a crowd? Let’s say you tell someone to meet you at a party, but you were in disguise. Let’s say you also wore a name tag, that said your name, but in someone else’s handwriting. How is that someone going to find you? In the same way, switching logos is disorienting to the market. Sure, we will all get used to the new logo, but is it really necessary?

AT&T and SBC claim that the new logo symbolizes “innovation, integrity, quality, reliability and unsurpassed customer care”. Good gravy, what about this logo change brings about the feelings of “unsurpassed customer care”? If by customer care, you mean “wavy rendition of the death star”, then sure, I gotcha, but if not, then this stinks of marketing nonsense.

Who made the decision to change the logo? Is this just AT&T trying to get publicity? Are they really thinking that rebranding the company would gain enough positive publicity in this press release so that people say that “yes indeed, AT&T and SBC have unsurpassed customer care”. Mind you, this is at the cost of diluting the visual brand, market disorientation, and we haven’t even talked about the economics of the switch.

This logo switch will require new branding on the following: Nearly 50,000 vehicles, over 6,000 buildings, about 40,000 uniforms and hardhats, over 30,000,000 monthly customer bills, millions of business documents and various company websites.

Who pays for this? Well, that would be AT&T and SBC customers. No, they didn’t ask you. But then again, you’re only customers.

I welcome your opinion. Do you like the new logo? Is it worth it to have a logo that today’s market would consider more modern?