Recently Brandsymbol and I had the privilege of attending one of the largest trade shows in the world: The 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. We got to connect with clients such as Philips, Microsoft, and Nikon; and spend time developing new relationships with many exciting emerging technology companies.
After four long days walking the floor of the conference, it was apparent the new, bright, shiny buzzword people were speaking about was 5G connectivity (as seen by the ever increasing online Google searches, the proliferation of brands touting expertise in 5G technology at CES, and most notably the CES keynote speech by Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg). This all in-spite of the reality that we’re still a few years away from developing the infrastructure needed to support 5G technology in the US.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that with every great technological innovation comes a swarm of companies advertising themselves as industry experts and first-to-market leaders – in this case that Brand is AT&T. By now, you should have read at least one story regarding the online backlash regarding AT&T’s dishonest rebranding efforts prior to CES.
Essentially AT&T at the end of 2018 decided to rename their LTE mobile network to 5GE, despite the network still only being 4G, to create favorable online buzz prior to CES kicking off. These efforts obviously backfired. Brands such as Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon quickly took to Twitter and other online platforms to poke fun at AT&T’s disingenuous effort to rebrand their 4G network.
Consumers more than ever are looking for brands to portray an authentic and transparent Brand personality, while being honest in all their forms of communications with them. The quickest way to ensure your Brand’s demise is to be found guilty of fraudulent or disingenuous behavior, and with an onslaught of negative press, the AT&T executive team instead of apologizing, stuck to their guns and doubled down on their misappropriated use of 5G.
Will this hurt AT&T? Likely not in the long-run, given its market share; however, as it relates to short-term sentiments this has overshadowed any good the Brand has done in the past few months and if they continue to portray themselves in this manner, expect the target audience to begin associating AT&T with fraudulent and dishonest behavior, which ultimately will hurt AT&T’s Brand.
Moral of the story: Brands should be as upfront and candid as possible with their consumers regarding their new product innovations. This applies throughout the process; from product development to marketing and advertising.
In the naming phase it is no different. Brand names should communicate to consumers what exactly it is it trying to represent. This can take many forms of course; from functional to inspirational or technical to aspirational. When working on the naming phase of a new product or service hard work goes into establishing what exactly the new name is trying to convey or embody. It is in all that work before the actual naming process begins that Brand names set the stage to ensure they are clear, concise, and compelling.