Monday, July 20, 2009

Week of 07/20/2009

Re-Branding the World
– by David Matthews 2

Quite recently the SciFi Channel officially changed their name.

From now on, they are known as Syfy.

Yes, it is still pronounced Sci-Fi, it just is spelled in the same way it is pronounced. And they ditched the whole “Channel” suffix.

And I’m sure you’re scratching your head and asking “WHY” they bothered to go through that whole song and dance, right?

One word: BRANDING!

Somewhere in the corporate offices of General Electric, owners of NBC Universal and the network now known as Syfy, some corporate executive was convinced that the old “SciFi Channel” name wasn’t hitting ALL of the demographics that they believe that it should. So they hired a consulting group, fired up the focus groups, did some brainstorming, and PRESTO, they came up with “Syfy”.

Or maybe they could say they ENDED UP with “Syfy”? No doubt during one of those so-called “brainstorming sessions” someone peered at their notes at how someone misspelled “SciFi” and said “Hey, how about we spell it with two Y’s?”

Once upon a time, branding was something that sort of happened by accident. Coca-Cola didn’t come up with “Coke”. McDonald’s didn’t come up with “McD’s”. Howard Johnson’s didn’t become “HoJo” on their own. The CLIENT BASE came up with these nicknames for abbreviation purposes, and they stuck. I mean, seriously, would a competent person come up with “Brangelina”?

Nowadays branding is not done by accident. It’s not left to chance by customers and critics looking to simplify or shorten long names or titles. It’s done deliberately by consulting groups designed to bring in immediate recognition.

Sometimes branding is done as part of an overall change in format. For instance when The Nashville Network became Spike TV, it was done as part of a massive change in format from a country-western-NASCAR channel to a general men-oriented network with professional wrestling and cartoons about strippers and other such testosterone-filled programming.

Re-branding also gives network executives the license to go beyond the original intent of the channel. For instance, when CourtTV became known as truTV, it allowed them to fill up the schedule with mind-numbing recreations and reality-show stupidity instead of always talking about courts and the law… because it supposedly put people to sleep. Well so does The Weather Channel, but you don’t see them suddenly air the Sports Illustrated Bikini Show. Oh, wait a minute… that’s TWC, not The Weather Channel. And it’s SI, not Sports Illustrated.

I would suspect that part of the reason why “SciFi” became “Syfy” is because the network exec have been getting away from the standard fare of science-fiction programming. They’ve started to air more horror shows, Japanese anime, sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and even professional wrestling. Now they can do these things without having to incur the wrath of science fiction purists screaming for the return of “Star Trek”.

And while some, like Richard Laermer, author of “Punk Marketing”, are fretting about this trend of “rebranding”, I think maybe we should take it up to the next level. Because let’s get brutally honest here… I seriously think a LOT of things in this country have strayed from their original intent and if they want to continue to stray, they should do so under a different name, preferably one that reflects their core nature.

Let’s start with some television networks…

MTV: “MTV” is short of “Music Television”. But they really haven’t been about MUSIC in a long, long, LONG time! They sold their soul to the reality TV producers more than ten years ago and haven’t even pretended to regret it. Only recently did they decide to air music videos again, but even that is only for the early hours of the morning. The rest of the day is chock full of regurgitated crap about self-important teens and twenty-somethings fretting away at their lives. So if they want to continue to exist, their new re-branded name should reflect it. Plus they pretend to be cool and edgy, just like the subjects of their reality regurgitations, so that should stay there as well.

So their new re-brand name should be… RealX

VH-1: “VH-1” used to be called “Video Hits One”. They were supposed to be the “mellow” version of MTV. But like MTV, they have banished their “VH” portion to the early-morning hours, interspersed with people jumping on trampolines and pretending to be cool. The rest of their day is also filled with rehashed and regurgitated reality shows. In fact they air more reality shows than MTV does.

So their new re-brand name should be… Real1

E!: Now I know you’re asking WHY re-brand a channel that already has a catchy brand in the first place? Well because “E!” isn’t about “Everything Entertainment” anymore. They too have caught the reality programming bug and have filled their schedules with mindless reality shows. But they also have a targeted audience mind. Just like MTV pretends to be cool, “E!” programs their shows with more women in mind. In fact if anything, they probably are more suited to compete against the “Oxygen” channel than against MTV. Just take “Keeping up with the Kardassians” and “Kendra” and compare them to “The Bad Girls Club” and you’d see strong similarities. So why not just go ahead and make “E!” another channel designed towards women?

So their new re-branded name should be… Estrogen

The CW: Does ANYONE know what “CW” means? Anyone? Anyone? Beuler? Beuler? Okay, the “C” stands for “CBS”, and the “W” stands for “Warner Brothers”. CBS owned the old “UPN” network and Warner Brothers owned “The WB”. The two owners merged their struggling networks into one even worse struggling network. Unfortunately their former edginess has been replaced with a “Smallville” series featuring a Clark Kent that REFUSES to become Superman, and a whole bunch of twenty-somethings pretending to be cool. Pretending, of course, being the operative word. Their new network name should be something that best describes their intentions, and something that people can instantly recognize.

So their new re-branded name should be… FluffTV

Cartoon Network: They want people to see “CN” and think “Cartoon Network”. Unfortunately they have SO badly strayed from the reservation that they have started airing LIVE ACTION movies. Their excuse is that they were based from cartoons, but they can’t even make that claim with their late night “Adult Swim” segment airing mindless LIVE ACTION comedy shows. (And I mean REALLY MINDLESS! As in someone needs to slap the programmers silly.) On the plus side, if marijuana were ever legalized, you’d know what channel would be the most watched for stoners. So if the executives at Time Warner want to continue with the trend of ignoring cartoons, they should go ahead and re-brand their channel to reflect it, and be as simple and mindlessly brain-damaged as some of their “Adult Swim” programming.

So their new re-branded name should be… Tuun

But why stop with TV networks? Let’s go ahead and re-brand other parts of society…

General Motors: GM considers themselves to be an American automaker, but like so many other automakers they are American only in pretense. A lot of their products are made from a hodgepodge of other countries and brought here to be given the GM label and thus be called “American”. Bumpers from Israel, side panels from Canada, engines made in Mexico, wipers from India, transmissions from Germany… possibly put together in America. They really took the “General” part of GM literally! So even though they have been bought out and taken over and renamed themselves back into GM, I think they need to be re-branded to reflect their nature to import their material…

So their new re-branded name should be… Mport

Ford Motor Company: The last of the “American” automakers and the only one that didn’t need a bailout which didn’t really bail them out. Birthplace of the assembly line and the preferred vehicle for down-home rednecks and other members of conservative America. Their re-branding should be simple and easy to comprehend for their customer base.

So their new re-branded name should be… Frd

Wall Street: So named because of its location in New York City, this kingdom of buying and selling, where fear is fortune and fortune is fleeting, is in serious need of re-branding. Trading isn’t done in person anymore. A lot of it is done electronically from various places around the world. And corruption has been so rampant that it takes out-and-out instances like Bernie Madoff for someone to take notice. Therefore the whole financial industry needs to be re-branded and renamed into something that reflects its mercenary nature.

So their new re-branded name should be… 4Sale

Las Vegas: Once upon a time, Las Vegas was THE king of gambling. Once upon a time. Now, of course, we have Reno, we have Atlantic City, and we have various Indian casinos all across the country. People don’t need to go to Vegas to get their game on. They sometimes just need a computer. Or even just a PlayStation 3. No, I’m not kidding about that. But Vegas still is king of the bling, king of the gaudy displays of excess and wealth. They thrive on wealth and live off the wealthy. They should set themselves apart not just by geography but also by nature.

So their new re-branded name should be… Ka-shing!

New York: Okay, New York THE STATE is one thing… but do we really have to have a city named the same way? New York, New York? Granted Frank Sinatra can make it work, but he was the only one who could! Liza Minnelli, MAYBE. So if we’re going to re-brand in the same way that we’re re-branding everything else, let’s give the city something new and unique.

So their new re-branded name should be… EnWySee

The Roman Catholic Church: Hey, here’s a church that has had two thousand years of secrets that they have mostly kept under wraps. Everything from shuffling around pedo-priests to supporting human atrocities. And did you know that for many centuries now the Catholic Church has had the largest collection of pornography in the world? It’s true! These guys make Larry Flynt and Bob Guccione look like a bunch of rank amateurs. And of course everyone wants to sue them for their money. So why not escape the stigma of the past and re-brand for the future?

So their new re-branded name should be… Big Christ Closets

Finally we get to the big ones…

The Democratic Party: This is a party that has really held on over the years by a series of loose threads attached to fifty-ton weights known as Unions, Lawyers, and Special Interests. They were disorganized, disjointed, and the only thing going for them was that they were not Republicans, but even that was subject to change. Plus it’s a little hard to say that you’re the “Democratic” Party when you often support socialist and oligarchic mentalities. This is a party that really needs to get out of the old Jeffersonian days and get with the here and now. They need to capitalize on their strengths… how few there are…

So their new re-branded name should be… Ope

Sounds strange, I know, but think about it… add an “H” and you get Hope, which has been their best selling point this past election. Add an “N” at the end and you get “Open”, as in open-minded, which is what they like to think they have. And with this new brand name they’re no longer tied down to this illusion of theirs that they support democracy. They can go ahead and back all the dictators and communists to their heart’s content.

The Republican Party: The ORIGINAL Republican Party, the one that referred to itself as the “GRAND OLD Party”, freed the slaves and helped the poor. Obviously those aren’t on top of the list of the CURRENT members of the GOP. I mean, have you SEEN the Republicans of late? They’re corrupt, they’re self-righteous, they’re self-serving, and every time they get into power they have this nasty trend to re-enslave people either through oil or banks. And when they’re not in power they become such a bunch of pathetic little prissy WHINERS! I mean, you can’t have a simple election without them screaming “VOTE FRAUD”. They even complain about how the voting is done on “American Idol”! Plus they LOVE to suck up to the fundamentalist extremists… at least when the extremists aren’t killing and bombing people… which is yet another group of enslaved masses they take pride in, even if in most instances it’s voluntary.

So let’s start with the fact that there is nothing GRAND about them anymore. The only thing about them that is GRAND is the number of GRANDS that it takes for people to get their attention. You know, one GRAND gets you the rubber chicken dinner, five GRAND gets you a handshake, and fifty GRAND gets you two minutes of conversation that they may or may not pay attention to. And OLD? Nobody wants to be seen as OLD! Especially not a party that is in desperate fear of going the way of the very Whigs that they replaced.

Plus… Republicans support a Republic. Republic? REPUBLIC? Who sees themselves as a REPUBLIC anymore? They don’t! They keep on talking about DEMOCRACY as if it’s some sort of panacea for the ills of the world! They probably would start calling themselves DEMOCRATS if not for the fact that it was first taken by those Ope folks.

Okay, so let’s get the Republicans a new brand name that reflects their strengths. A brand name that reflects their claims of spiritual devotion, their demand for unquestionable obedience, and their determination to stay the course even if that course leads to death and destruction! Plus they can invoke it as a universal denial of any future accusations they may have to deal with.

So their new brand name should be… GodNo!

There! Now they can move on into the 21st Century with a catchy brand name that reflects their nature!

Wow, I can see why corporations like doing this stuff.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I chuckled at a few of those TV station name changes. If it weren't for The Soup and to a lesser extent Chelsea Handler, I wouldn't touch that station.

I'm glad I'm not to only one who is noticing the downward spiral that Cartoon Network is going through. I'm a cartoon fan and while I could let them off on showing the movie "Who Framed Rodger Rabbit" because it had cartoons in it, but I don't want kid versions of Ghost Hunters and Survivor. And more power on the state of Adult Swim. Instead of giving money and time to high quality cartoons like Boondocks, they'd rather throw in bad live-action stuff or cartoons that have horrid, cheap animation. It makes me wish I had the money to buy Adult Swim and fix things.