2007 – Interesting Year Start in Brands and Branding

2007 definitely started with a lot of agitation in some of the big brands courtyard.

I’d start with the Apple Computers who dropped computer from its name. The move is rather normal considering that iPod or iTunes are two of the main products of Apple Inc. and was announced in the same time with the buzzy launching of iPhone. Now, getting to this, cannot help myself not to admire the Apple capacity to create a buzz in the media, no matter that we’re talking about the internet of the classic mass media. The phone they launched is, I admit, a work of art and has a lot of great features but I wouldn’t hurry to name it neither a Blackberry killer, a computer or a smart phone. It’s more like a beautifully designed, big brand sustained swiss knife of mobiles.

Anyway, the iPhone road is not clear yet, at least in terms of naming and branding as Cisco sued Apple over the name itself considering they are marketing a VOIP phone with the same name for quite a while now. I wonder on this what made Steve Jobs go on with the name at the Macworld conference: the trust in the Apple brand power to impose the iPhone on the market (along with its previous similar names products: iPod, iTunes or iMac) or the time pressure of the launch. There were even rumors (not confirmed after all) that they already changed the name to iTouch Mobile. Well not yet.

Speaking about Apple’s phone, is worth mentioning its (two years in advanced blindly signed) exclusivity distribution contract with Cingular. And coming to this is also worth mentioning that AT&T launched its largest-ever ad campaign yesterday geared toward absorbing Cingular Wireless into the AT&T brand. More than that. AT&T will also be launching a campaign to rebrand BellSouth as AT&T. AT&T acquired BellSouth for $80 billion in December – the largest telecommunications merger in U.S. history. Cingular was a joint property of AT&T and BellSouth. Now that’s a huge rebranding effort to follow.

Citigroup, the global banking giant, is shrinking its name. Executives are prepared to rebrand the company “Citi” and to fold up its familiar red umbrella and instead use a logo with a stylized arc above the name. The design is similar to the “citi” logo that now appears on much of its consumer advertising, office buildings and credit cards. A rollout could begin as early as next month.

Pepsi is introducing 35 different packaging designs as part of a global brand revamp aimed at bringing younger consumers closer to the brand. It is only the 11th time the brand has changed its look in its 109-year history. The graphics, created by US agencies, will use themes associated with teens and young adults. Looking to get a little extra pop out of its sponsorship of the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show, Pepsi announced it is giving away a jewel-encrusted Pepsi can valued at $100,000 as well as Super Bowl tickets for life.

Now, getting to the soon to come Super Bowl and Time Magazine person of the year 2006, just found via Church of the Customer Blog an interesting initiative of some advertisers that have jumped on the citizen-created bandwagon by inviting everyday people to help create their ads. Lining up are Chevrolet, Doritos, and the NFL. The contests for Chevy and the NFL are to submit ideas for commercials, not actual videos. Winning ideas are made into ads by professional agencies.

And, in the end, since I got next to sports, even though I’m planning a separate blog post on this, it has to be mentioned as an important start-of-the-year-branding-event and a subject follow, the multi-million dollar Beckham brand relocation in USA.

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