Before you rename your product, think about your audience

Blog ideas can come from anywhere, and today I’m enjoying the fact that I got two blog ideas from one episode of the YouTube talk show Hot Ones. In addition to sparking a blog about presentations, Conan O’Brien also inspired me to write about why it can be risky to rename your product.

O’Brien has a new show coming out on Max, and when promoting it during the interview, he says, “Is it HBO Max or just Max? I think it’s just Max.”

If the name change is even confusing stars on the network, I wondered why HBO decided to name it Max. According to a Vanity Fair article, “Though the HBO brand is a strong one, executives at the company decided to remove it from the name of the new combined service because they wanted to signal to subscribers that it is a broader offering, one that streams not just Succession but also 90 Day Fiancé.”

What’s even more confusing to me about the Max name is that the cable movie network Cinemax also still exists.

As I turned off Hot Ones to go pay my Comcast – I mean, my Xfinity – bill, I started thinking about how often companies rename their products and even themselves. Is it worth the money and time spent?

Initially, naming and marketing a company or product is costly. Renaming it is just as costly. And it doesn’t always take.

Conan couldn’t remember if it was HBO Max or just Max. I still call Xfinity Comcast. And years ago, when the company I worked for renamed one of its products, clients just couldn’t make the switch. It made editing our client testimonial videos quite tricky.

Of course there are reasons to rename your product or company: merging organizations or products, evolving or consolidating products, to avoid trademark and legal problems, …the list goes on.

However, given the time and money involved in renaming a product, marketers and executives should think carefully before proposing a change. If your audience is confused by or reacts negatively to the new name, is it even worth doing?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you rename your product:

  • How much brand equity does the current name have?
  • How will clients react to the change? Will it confuse them or cause them to react negatively?
  • What are the long-term implications of a new name? Is it broad enough to support future product evolution?
  • Is the new name trademarkable? Is it close to any other product names on the market?

Ensuring you’ve done your research and are well-informed can make renaming your product a better experience – for you and your clients. If you do decide to go ahead with renaming your product, here’s a blog that may help.

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Think about how your audience will react before you rename your product. (Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik)