Many moons ago back when I was a novice blogger (I really hate that term), I wrote a quick little post entitled Embarq - The Worst Brand Name Ever? but I never really answered that question. And, guaranteed day in and day out I get a large portion of my traffic from people searching on Embarq, so I thought, hmmm, I guess I should answer that question.
Now before I do let me say for the record that I do NOT have an axe to grind with Embarq (formerly known as Sprint). Pretty much every customer service call I've had with them has been helpful. Sure I had some trouble getting my DSL going, but now it works fine. My two problems with them are that I can't get bundled pricing on my main phone line with my second line and the fact that they wasted dollars on this new terrible brand name with a logo that looks like a puke green paper airplane.
Back to the question at hand. Well the folks at TrendIQ, Jeaneen Andrews one of my favorite ex-AT&Ters (the old and better version) and Paul Feldman, did an analysis of Embarq's internet search activity and categorized it into a few useful charts to prove that Embarq is a truly an awful brand name. In a nutshell the folks at TrendIQ can analyze search activity, blog posts, and general news to look at trends of a brand. And according to this analysis on Embarq, it looks bad. I'll save you the trouble of reading through the charts which does take a small amount of concentration and closely approaches rocket science. However, if I'm reading these charts correctly:
- Home Page Topics - Embarq is more closely associated with B2B than B2C to the approximate tune of 65% to 35%. A look at their homepage doesn't display that imbalance.
- State References - At first glance this looks pretty good except there are several states where they don't offer wireline service that are high up on the list including NY, MI, and GA,
- Top Markets/Industries - While Telecom is their #1 industry which it should be, financial services (?) and software are way up on the list too. Plus, there are other extraneous industries like real estate, travel, insurance and media/entertainment that are extremely strong.
There's a fourth study but I think you get the hint. As I guessed way back in March, the name Embarq can not be conveying the message of communications, speed, or other telecommunications brand references. When your brand name is associate with financial services, insurance, travel and real estate more than internet (DSL), than I'd say you have a problem.
So what should Embarq do assuming that the brand name is here to stay. Well judging from the three TrendIQ charts, they need to be laser focused on their message (are you business or consumer, local, DSL, etc), explain what business they are in, and focus the advertising in states where they have wireline coverage. And then blast it out on TV, XM Radio via Google, and nice big internet branding units.
Embarq really is a bad name, the service is good, the brand name is bad. However, with focused advertising they can work key metrics and brand awareness to make lemonade out of a lemon of a brand name.