Four years after it bought Linksys, Cisco has finally decided to kill the well-known brand name.

Although there was no official announcement of the move, Cisco CEO John Chambers dropped the move rather casually into a European roundtable discussion with journalists this week.

From an unspecified point this year, all Linksys products would be branded under the Cisco name within the new SMB division, Chambers said. The two companies had already taken some months to integrate product lines, a process that was now nearing completion.

“The reason we kept Linksys' brand because it was better known in the US than even Cisco was for the consumer. As you go globally there's very little advantage in that,” Chambers was reported as saying.

Chambers didn’t elaborate as to why this brand situation had necessarily changed since the time of the purchase. Cisco is still overwhelmingly seen as a dry, high-end systems company, while Linksys has immediate recognition from millions of wireless router owners across the globe.

“In terms of the evolution of the branding it will all come, over time, into a Cisco brand,” he said. In fact, no firm date was given for the all-Cisco branding to occur, but the comments would suggest that this will occur within months as Linksys stock is exhausted.

Cisco announced plans to buy SMB and consumer networking company Linksys in March 2003 for $500 millions-worth of Cisco stock, completing the purchase that July.

Although the de-branding move is window-dressing on one level, it does mark return to the ‘big company’ concept that went out of fashion in the late 1990s. Cisco’s brand will be on hardware products from $29 all the way up to some costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, just as IBM’s once was for a previous age.