So as I write this, the newly re-christened SciFi Channel is ringing the bell at the NASDAQ to celebrate their name change to “Syfy” (Siffy?) and the Twitter hash tag #syfy is alive with unanimous pans of the new name: “Worst. Re-branding. Ever.” That might be a stretch, but so is the new name.
Wired magazine notes media reaction to the “reboot”:
Variety, noting the fan outrage and commenting on the trend of cable channels renaming themselves in search of wider audiences, said NBC Universal had tripped the light gooftastic. “Syfy … opens up new possibilities for confusion,” the trade publication wrote. “If the network is trying to expand beyond science-fiction programming, why go with a new name that’s still pronounced ‘Sci Fi,’ but with a goofy spelling?”
Captain, I’m a brander not a Cable programmer, but they’re trying to have it both ways here. They’re trying to 1) preserve brand equity by pretending that the word will be pronounced the same way, while 2) leaving themselves open to the possibility of expanding to non-science fiction programming, and 3) building a distinctive protectable trademark in the package.
All of which sounds great on paper but to ordinary earthlings, it seems like a big stretch. Which is the trade-off when you choose a plain-language descriptive name like “SciFi” in the first place. Instant category recognition, but you have to live with (and respect) the expectations you create.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this weekend’s Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest should rebrand as “Blewsfest” now that KISS, Styx, and Ice Cube are all on the same bill. Note to Bluesfest: gimme a call, ‘kay?
A quick word on the tag line:
Oh, and when you put the “Siffy” name together with the mostly opaque and totally illiterate tagline “Imagine Greater” one wonders if the marketing team has been abducted by aliens (and not by the smart ones).