NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Netflix ( NFLX) is dumping its plan to rename its DVD business "Qwikster," joining the ranks of other failed rebranding efforts.
The company received a slew of backlash last month when it announced it would split up the company into two units -- one dedicated to its streaming service and the other for its DVD-by-mail business. Subscribers criticized the move as convoluted and clunky for users of both services and threatened to cancel their memberships. >Netflix Abandons 'Qwikster' On top of this, Netflix also failed to secure the Twitter handle for Qwikster, which was already owned by someone who refers to himself as "Elmo" and Tweets about smoking pot. Prior to the split-up announcement, Netflix already was contending with irate subscribers over a price hike and announcement that Liberty Starz ( LSTZA)content will no longer be available streaming next year. The split-up, it seemed, was the last straw for subscribers. As a result, Netflix said it will keep the company intact, with just one Web site, one account and one password to access both rental ques. "It is clear that for many of our members two Web sites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs," Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on the company's blog. Netflix's quick abandonment of its DVD rebranding is reminiscent of several past branding blunders gone awry. Here's a look at some of the most memorable rebranding disasters.
One of the first major branding blunders came from Coca-Cola ( KO) when in 1985 it introduced the infamous "New Coke." The company changed the 99-year-old formula of its popular soft drink, simply calling it "the new taste of Coca-Cola," which apparently was a sweeter version of the original. The reaction to the change was profound, and New Coke was ultimately a marketing failure. Coca-Cola reverted back to the original formula just three months after the change, re-branding it "Coca Cola Classic," and resulting in a significant gain in sales. New Coke lingered on store shelves until the early 1990s. The move led to speculation that New Coke was simply a marketing ploy.
Gap ( GPS) quietly redesigned its iconic logo in October 2010, but the response from shoppers was anything but quiet. The new logo, designed by Laird and Partners, updated its original 20-year-old predecessor with a small blue box sitting above the "p". Gap shoppers took to the Internet, with people on Facebook saying that if Gap kept the new design they would no longer shop at the store. The company responded to this backlash, asking consumers to submit their own ideas for a new logo. But within a week Gap reverted back to its old logo, leaving consumers to criticize its amateurish attempt at rebranding. And Gap's president at the time, Marka Hansen, resigned just weeks after the failed logo.
Who knew consumers were so attached to their orange juice carton? Tropicana found out in January 2009 when it redesigned its container. The company, a division of PepsiCo ( PEP), replaced the classic straw-in-orange with a simple glass of orange juice. Branding experts criticized the new packaging saying it made Tropicana look like a generic store brand and stripped it of its personality. As a result, sales plunged 20% following the redesign, and Pepsi received significant backlash. Tropicana scrapped the new packaging two months after its release.
Amid declining sales, RadioShack ( RSH) decided to rebrand the company "The Shack" in 2009. This was a clear move by the electronics retailer to emphasize its non-radio offerings. "When a brand becomes a friend, it often gets a nickname -- take FedEx or Coke, for example," Lee Applbaum, chief marketing officer of RadioShack, said in a release at the time. "Our customers, associates and even the investor community have long referred to Radio Shack as 'The Shack,' so we decided to embrace that fact and share it with the world." But the company didn't go so far as to officially change the name of the store, instead it left RadioShack signage and adopted "The Shack" nickname in its advertising campaign. "The Shack" became the butt of jokes, but the company continues to use the nickname.
Comcast Becomes Xfinity
Comcast's ( CMCSA) decision to re-name itself Xfinity earned the No. 1 spot in Time magazine's Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes in 2010. The company changed the name of its cable television, Internet and phone services in February 2010. While the name of the company remained Comcast, it rolled out Xfinity on its cable trucks, uniforms and advertisements. "We are beginning to reposition the company with the consumer, demonstrating how the technical and product investments we have made can redefine how customers experience video, voice and the Internet," CEO Brian Roberts said at the time. The name change came as Comcast dealt with subscribers beginning to abandon its service for Internet video. At the time, Comcast also faced a bad rap, and it was believed the company adopted Xfinity to try to change customers' perception. - Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York. Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.