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Broadband rebranding

Consolidation is Causing a Rebranding Bonanza in Broadband

New Brands Are Common in Telecom, but Rebranding Efforts Can Backfire if Companies Are Not Careful

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Astound Broadband, Fidium, AltaFiber, Breezeline, Brightspeed—these are just a few of the new brands for broadband services that have been introduced over the past year. While many of these new brands are a result of a merger or divestiture, others are just a result of the company wanting to signal a change in its product line, or distance itself from its legacy brand which may be associated with outdated technologies like landline telephones.

For example, Breezeline is the rebrand of Atlantic Broadband. The company changed its name in January, and said the new name is intended to showcase its growing footprint and commitment to delivering stellar customer service. Atlantic Broadband also wanted to distance itself from the “Atlantic” name, which implies the company’s services are only available in Northeastern U.S.

Consolidated Communications introduced the Fidium Fiber brand last November. The brand is initially just being used in company’s New England footprint, including Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Consolidated launched the new brand in conjunction with its new app, Attune WiFi, that lets customers set content and access restrictions, conduct speed tests, and also troubleshoot connectivity issues. Although Consolidated hasn’t said whether it will expand the Fidium brand beyond its New England markets, the new brand name does distinguish it from its telco heritage as a telephony and DSL provider – services that are quickly becoming obsolete as consumers move to higher bandwidth services like fiber.

Cincinnati Bell is another example of a legacy phone company that is ditching its old name as part of its reinvention to becoming a broadband heavyweight. In March the company rebranded as AltaFiber. Cincinnati Bell is nearly 150 years old and was the first telephone company in Ohio. Today the company is privately held after being acquired for $2.9 billion in September 2021 by Macquarie Asset Management. The company’s coverage also has expanded beyond Ohio to include Kentucky and Indiana.

Rebranding Is Commonplace in Telecom

Rebranding is a fairly common occurrence in the telecom industry, particularly when there has been a rush of consolidation or when companies want to expand beyond their existing footprint or product line. The Verizon brand, for example, made its debut in 2000 after the merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE. The name is based upon the Latin word “veritas,” which means certainty and reliability, combined with “horizon,” which signifies forward looking and visionary.

Two decades later and Verizon is now considered the most valuable telecom brand in the world and ranked No. 1 by Brand Finance, a research firm that values brands. In Brand Finance’s list of the top 150 global telecom brands, AT&T is ranked No. 3 on the list while Comcast’s Xfinity is No. 6 and Charter Communications’ Spectrum is No. 7.

Interestingly, Xfinity and Spectrum are consumer brand names that are different from the names of the corporations that use them, but they derive stronger consumer awareness. On its website, Comcast explains that it created Xfinity as a consumer-facing brand because Comcast was viewed primarily as a TV provider, and the company wanted to introduce new services, but thought that the Comcast brand was too narrow and might confuse people if they added new services and products without creating a new brand.

Charter introduced the Spectrum brand in 2016 about six months after it acquired two cable companies—Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The company first repackaged its residential offerings with the Spectrum brand, and then rebranded its enterprise offerings, too. In addition, when the company introduced its wireless services in 2018, it called the offering Spectrum Mobile.

Brand Finance Chairman and CEO David Haigh says that while most companies believe that the primary purpose of a strong brand is to attract customers, build loyalty and motivate staff, in reality the biggest benefit of a strong brand is to make money. In addition, Brand Finance’s research has found a link between strong brands and stock market performance.

Of course, the potential downside to rebranding is that it can cause confusion in the market. That is why any rebranding campaign needs to be supported by a lot of marketing in order to succeed. In addition, experts say that the rebranding efforts need to be consistent across social media, email newsletters and in press releases.

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