Rebranding != Changing Your Name or Slogan

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There must be something in the water. The great state of Wisconsin has a new tourism slogan “Live Like You Mean It” and the SciFi Channel is changing it’s name to SyFy.

I can imagine these meetings: “We need new energy! We need a new brochure…no…a new SLOGAN!…a new NAME!!” Imagine broad sweeping arm gestures accompanying that sentence as if the speaker were expanding her arms to embrace the entire expanse of her new empire.

Both these moves are classic branding mistakes. A slogan is not a brand, it should sum up what’s already there. Otherwise don’t bother. The best take on this was in the book “Cutting Edge Advertising” where the authors advised, if it’s not as good as “Just Do It”, don’t. Especially don’t if the slogan’s been beaten like a rented mule.

In regards to Sci Fi’s name change, Bonnie Hammer, former president of Sci Fi is quoted in the New York Times, “We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre. But we can own Syfy.”

Let me ask everyone who watches Sci Fi, do you care if the channel can own it’s name? I sure as hell don’t. What does that have to do with the quality of your programming? When I thought of T.V. and science fiction, I thought of Sci Fi. Now I’ll cringe every time I linger there.

What’s even more surprising about the Sci Fi name change is that their audience is one of the most cynical and dismissive of this kind of chicanery. These are the people who will point out plot holes in comic book story lines from decades ago and you’re going to try to jam brand-speak down their throats? Why don’t you see if the folks over at D.C. Comics can get Batman into therapy and get a cheerier disposition. Because, you know, women from 18-35 think he’s too negative.

It’s all ridiculous. It’s like giving yourself a nickname and insisting everyone else use it. People either think you’re nuts or arrogant. The internet exposes these flimsy excuses for real branding as weak and inauthentic. Just stop. Please.

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