Will AT&T keep the DIRECTV name?

First off let me say that I don’t know the answer. I have a lot of powerful friends, but there are some corridors of the power structure at AT&T that are closed to me, which is probably as it should be. While I’m throwing disclaimers at you, I should mention that SolidSignal.com, the people who keep the lights on here, are DIRECTV dealers and that we’re all just speculating here and not representing ourselves as knowing what we’re talking about (in this particular case.)

But anyway…

Since AT&T and DIRECTV merged, there’s been some question about how the branding is going to look once all the smoke clears. Losing the “Cyclone” logo is probably a first step to a more unified brand structure, although some of us will miss that logo. Considering that the current DIRECTV logo (at the top of this article) is really just the old logo without the Cyclone and with a little bit of the AT&T corporate font thrown in, it’s a safe bet that some very expensive advertising agencies are right this very second working on a more permanent identity for the world’s largest pay television company.

The first thing to hope is that whatever they do, it will be better received than the current AT&T logo. The old logo owes its existence to a 2005 redesign that wasn’t very well received at the time, and replaced an incredibly iconic logo penned by the unquestioned master of logo design, Saul Bass. The logo change came about because AT&T itself was actually bought by SBC, one of its former subsidiaries, and the new owners felt a new look was overdue.

In the years since that logo was introduced, it’s grown on me, not because it’s intrinsically better than its early 1980s predecessor shown below:

but because logo design in the late 2000s turned out to be pretty uniformly awful and the AT&T logo seems like a paragon of restraint compared to the effects-laden messes we saw for most of the last ten years. But I digress. The real question here isn’t whether or not DIRECTV’s logo will change, but whether the DIRECTV name itself will be lost to history once the transition is over.

Personally I don’t think it will be. I think the U-Verse name will fade away, considering that it lacked the overwhelmingly good reputation that DIRECTV enjoys, and there is a possibility of course that you’ll simply see it branded as AT&T TV in the future but I doubt that too. I suspect the reason it was called U-Verse in the first place was to avoid that triple “T” in the name which is hard to pronounce and relies on your placing the ampersand and the space in the right place or else you just get a sort of stuttering mess of ATTTTV (wait, did I put too many T’s there? See how hard it is to work with?)

I think the DIRECTV brand is secure personally and I think so because of the tens of thousands of people who worked hard to make it one of the most positively received brands in the western hemisphere. When the company expanded into South America, they could have kept the “Sky” name that’s used in Mexico; that name came from DIRECTV’s former alliance with News Corporation but I’m sure they could have used it in South America. Instead they chose to use DIRECTV as the brand in almost every country they entered and the simple reason is the overwhelming good impression it makes. The word “DIRECTV” doesn’t mean anything in Spanish really, and yet South Americans craved it because they knew how great the service was in North America.

I personally believe the people who are running the DIRECTV unit of AT&T are far, far too smart to throw away twenty years of good will and customer satisfaction. What do you think?