The rebranding boom has officially gone bust. Corporate name changes worldwide fell 35% in 2002, according to a new study by identity consultants Enterprise IG. That's the steepest decline in three years, following a period when several grandiose corporate campaigns -- Verizon, Cingular -- inspired others to rename as well.

The slowdown in venture capital, IPOs, and M&A caused the drop, since these activities often prompt makeovers. Thrift is another motivator. "We couldn't justify the unforeseen costs that renaming demands," says John Saaty, of AWS Convergence Technologies, a business that recently back-burnered the idea. (From that name, would you ever guess that the Maryland company owns weather stations?)

Anthony Shore, of Landor Associates, a New York branding firm, agrees that "the costs of promotion and advertising can be substantial," and advises businesses to write new tag lines as an interim measure. He recently helped to devise the new slogan "We turn on ideas" for Seagate Technology, for example.

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