It was such a long time ago when AT&T ditched its original Saul Bass logo that the discussion about it happened not on Brand New, but on Speak Up. In 2005. One year before the launch of Brand New and, also of importance, nearly two years before the iPhone launch. All this to say: Has it really been that long? But also: Didn’t this happen, like, yesterday? Either way, a lot has changed for AT&T, having risen as the heaven where the iPhone lives to also being the hell where the iPhone dies in the clogged lines of its 3G network with all of its hope placed in the hands of Luke Wilson. No more. Yesterday, AT&T launched a new brand campaign that introduces the theme of “Rethink Possible” and tries to do what few other companies — like Nike, Target and Apple — can, drop the name from the logo.
As the New York Times reported, the advertising is being handled by BBDO while the identity is being massaged by Interbrand, who also did the redesign back in 2005. Despite some rumors yesterday morning, the logo did not change, other than the circumcision of its wordmark. But it has taken on a new, flexible superpower to turn into whatever it desires. Perhaps at the expense of graphic decency. If you thought the Aol. stuff was lame then I can’t imagine this getting any more traction than that.
The video above, up until the logo starts to do its thing, is remarkably great. The typography is surprisingly hip — Omnes, Stag and Stag Stencil, aka cha-ching Village! — the pacing engaging and the style trendy without being too trendy. Definitely a step in the right direction, even with all the motivational mumbo jumbo: “Expand your boundaries of Can,” “Outsmart Can’t,” and the big daddy of them all “Rethink Possible.” I am pretty liberal with my writing and I don’t take grammatical rules too seriously but there is something that doesn’t sound right about that tagline.
The new commercials can be seen at the micro site for Rethink Possible, and they are not bad at all. There is even some additional logo mutations that can be seen there, that are reminiscent of the stuff that HP has been doing with their logo lately. But in the bigger picture of things, these ads and the whole rebranding is an effort to move away from a direct brand war with Verizon and stop the comparisons by giving AT&T its own personality that doesn’t depend on its competitor.
It will be interesting to see if this big brand campaign does anything for AT&T, as it surely is a brand in the dog house due to its unnerving customer service and poor coverage. For what it’s worth, since moving to Austin, my 3G coverage is pretty great, a hundred times better than it was in New York, so there is plenty of space here in Texas if anyone else wants better coverage and keep their iPhone.
Oh, and yes, the opening image is highly misleading.