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Re-Branding, a Dangerous Strategy

A while ago, in the misty dawn of internet commerce, a government agency I know decided to change its web site address, dropping its parent department and just going by WWW.WHOZIT.GOV. Needless to say this caused a storm in the user community with suddenly invalid bookmarks, frantic e-mails that the website was down, etc. They put a re-director on the old homepage, but really, who uses the homepage when what you need is several clicks down? Yep, lessons learned about how folks actually use the Internet.

Anyone see the TV commercial for the new Broadview home security system? What? You haven’t heard of Broadview? Ah! Have you heard of Brinks Home Security? Yes, more likely you have. Well for whatever reason, Brinks has changed its name to Broadview.

Yes, you heard right. They went from a well known name associated with armored cars, surely a powerful “security” image, to one that no one has heard of. In fact when I started writing this I remembered it as “Briarwood,” you know, like the nearly impenetrable fence of briars around Sleeping Beauty’s castle that kept all those pesky princes out. Good name for a home security firm, actually; but no, the real new name is “Broadview.” Being from a Frank Sinatra-steeped generation, I might assume that this company had something to do with girl watching.

This reminds me of the merger of Wells Fargo and Loomis Armored, two armored car companies. Hmm, why is it that armored car companies seem to make all the bad naming decisions? Anyway, did these companies stick with the historically renowned Wells Fargo name? Hell no! They re-branded as Loomis Fargo, a name no one had heard of, at least not on the east coast. You know, that’s the one where the financial markets are.

So I guess one should really give things a good think before naming your firm or website. And on re-naming, to paraphrase Bob Vila, THINK twice, re-name once.

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Barbara Blaskowsky

Have you seen that Kinkos is now “FedEx Office?” Once FedEx acquired Kinkos in 2004, they slowly went to “FedEx Kinkos” and now have dropped “Kinkos” all together.

Even though FedEx is a well-known brand, they’re the shipping people. We all know Kinkos as the copy place.

From their website FAQs:

“What is the correct company name: FedEx Kinko’s or FedEx Office?
The company name is FedEx Office. In June 2008, FedEx Corporation announced the name change of FedEx Kinko’s to FedEx Office. The centers will be rebranded during the next several years. ”

“Why did FedEx rename FedEx Kinko’s to FedEx Office?
The FedEx Office name better describes the wide range of services available at our retail centers and takes full advantage of the FedEx brand – long recognized for excellent customer service, quality and reliability. ”

I still think most people will still call it Kinkos.