When Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. marry later this year, the new company will take Sprint's name and Nextel's colors.
In anticipation of the completion of Sprint's $35 billion acquisition of Reston-based Nextel, company officials revealed their new logo and brand strategy yesterday, including plans to market the new company to customers as Sprint.
Though the official name of the merged company would be Sprint Nextel Corp. and the Nextel brand name will still be used on some products, particularly phones with Nextel's popular walkie-talkie features, the changes would mark the fading of a name from the Washington corporate landscape that had become synonymous with upstart innovation.
Along with MCI Inc., which is also set to be absorbed into a much larger company, Nextel helped seal Washington's importance as a telecommunications hub.
The announcement was "not a surprise" because Sprint is a bigger company, said one employee at Nextel's Reston headquarters last night. "It is nice that they incorporated our colors. Of course we are sad. It is the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one."
The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the upcoming merger.
"It is very historical," said Eric Sanchez, who works in Nextel's operations unit. "It is interesting to watch the progression," as Nextel takes steps to become part of a combined company that would compete with phone giants such as Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc. by offering wireless services only.
Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan., now uses a "pin drop" slogan and red and white colors, a color pattern used by many other companies.
By contrast, the merged company's color scheme would adopt Nextel's yellow and black. Researchers and behavioral psychologists consider the combination bold and attention-getting, said Nick Sweers, spokesman for Sprint.
"It tends to pop out more," Sweers said.
Nearly two years ago, Nextel replaced its older maroon and white logo with the yellow and black colors as part of its "Nextel Done" slogan.
"We have products and services that help people get things done," said Russell Wilkerson, spokesman for Nextel. "We felt like the yellow and black was really action-oriented."
Though Sprint would be the lead brand name for the new company, advertising would include the tag line, "Together with Nextel."
The companies also announced yesterday that Nextel will continue its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series next year and will decide the series name before the 2006 season opener in February. Nextel signed a 10-year deal to sponsor the NASCAR series last year.
The merger was announced last December and should be complete by the third quarter of this year. Shareholders will meet and vote on the merger on July 13.