The decision to change the company name is a smart one because it distances non-tobacco units from their controversial cigarette sibling, said Don Pettit, president-CEO of brand consultancy Sterling Group. But the name and multi-pixeled Altria logo-created by WPP Group's Landor, Associates, San Francisco-"isn't as much connected to where the company came from and what the company is. It is an abstraction, and it's not an abstraction that's obvious to the viewer," he said.
"Even if you buy the explanation that they want their companies to reach higher, it's not inspirational and does not really connect with what their businesses do."
But that may be the point. The Philip Morris name and imagery "is a lightning rod that the rest of the [non-tobacco] businesses don't deserve," Mr. Pettit said. "The [new image] changes the amount of flak the other companies need to deal with."