As I'm sure you've heard, AOL Time Warner.
The change goes into effect on Thursday and has garnered some press coverage, especially in the financial media. (It's hard to fault a company for disclosure, but are name changes really that pressing for investors?)
More to the point, for a media and entertainment company with a vast portfolio of individual media products, each with its own name recognition to bank on, is any of this even necessary after a -- gulp -- mere three years?
As a marketing consultant, I can tell you that customers typically don't like change. You know what I mean. You yourself probably refer to a restaurant by its previous owner's name. But for Time Warner, already a compound name (remember when Time and Warner were themselves discrete?), tacking on the name of its "acquirer" back in 2000 turned out to be a harbinger of change that nobody seems to like.
Still, from a marketer's vantage, changing a three-year-old name sends a fuzzy signal to investors. At a time when almost everything seems in a state of flux -- the economy, our national security, the reconstruction of Iraq -- it would be a better marketing strategy for Time Warner to position itself as committed to long-term initiatives, not reactionary steps in the face of short-term bumps in the road.
Yet, in marketing, even an adversarial condition is deemed an opportunity. I am sure that the marketing team at Time Warner is diligently working on conveying that this name change reflects broader strategies for effective management and potential growth.
But is it worth the bother? Not unless Time Warner can prove that this curious reversal wasn't merely a spinning of wheels, but a placement of good traction to gain some ground going forward.
Yvonne Pesquera welcomes your feedback at email@example.com.