O2 - Is that the best you can do?

BT Wireless breathes in the oxygen of publicity...

BT Wireless breathes in the oxygen of publicity...

One2One, Orange, and now O2 - are they all trying to get on the same page of the phone book? Or perhaps it reflects how much money they O 2 the banks. Either way, it certainly doesn't stand for originality. A new name for BT Cellnet was certainly long overdue. As Piers Schmidt, managing partner at marketing advisors Fourth Room points out: "For a company whose slogan used to be 'A world of freedom', it was a shame that their name was made up of 'cell' and 'net' - two words which suggest exactly the opposite." When monikers are taken out of technical manuals, companies end up with horror names like Cellnet. It's not that they can't think up better ones, it is just that people seem to find bland names comforting. Why else would IBM's excitingly named Project Monterey eventually reach the outside world as AIX 5L? Given the lack of inspiration at the time, it's not surprising that Orange made such a rumpus when it exploded onto the market in a whirl of glossy advertising. It wasn't the fact that it had a digital network or per-second billing that got people excited. It was the branding. Those little Orange squares and messianic pop-video style ads, they changed mobile phones from a talking brick into something that was sexy, young and optimistic. At least the market for Orange-like names will soon be slightly less crowded when One2One rebrands itself. Gary Oldman will soon have the unenviable task of telling us that life is made up of nothing more than a series of T-Mobiles. We all know BT hasn't been having the best time of late. It should have changed the name sooner - Schmidt recalls discussions about ditching Cellnet back in 1996, when business was a lot rosier. They could also have done something better. As Schmidt says: "I would have tried to out-Orange Orange. But Cellnet have just copied them."