Mobile network BT Wireless, formerly BT Cellnet, yesterday announced its rebranding to O2 – the chemical symbol for oxygen.

The rationale, explains chief executive Peter Erskine, is to create a perception of the brand as an entity all-pervasive and necessary to life, as opposed to the tech-heavy image shouldered by BT Cellnet and its German unit Viag Interkom. "We are a completely new company and need a new name," said Erskine.

It met with a mixed reception among branding gurus, some applauding the appellation. Timothy Ryan of the FutureBrand consultancy conceded: "It is better than Cellnet but the name is less important than what they deliver behind it. The risk is that it is seen as old wine in new bottles. It could end up as an emotional brand like Orange if it is done properly, but it could also end up being vacuous."

O2 will be phased-in across BTW's five European mobile operation over the next eighteen months. The cost of implementing the changes – not only the physical rebranding but the accompanying organisational revamp – could run into tens of millions of pounds, say the gurus.

News source: Financial Times