Lately, I have seen some examples of brands being obliterated. The two that stand out are HBO and Twitter.
Home Box Office has been around for half a century. It existed at the dawn of the “cable” revolution. Before cable, we had only broadcast television and movies. Cable expanded our puny list of 5-6 stations to a much bigger pool of hundreds. The most prestigious of them all was HBO, Home Box Office.
The HBO Logo has been the same for 40 years. It also had a distinct sound that marked the brand for that period.
HBO was synonymous with interesting content. They innovated the entire production concept versus broadcast TV. This was the status quo for decades. And then came the digital streaming. HBO at first couldn’t even figure out what to do with this streaming idea. They tried HBO Go, HBO Now, and finally HBO Max. They all had slight variations.
The amazing content HBO produced included major standup comedy shows along with award winning series such as:
- The Sopranos
- Game of Thrones
- The Wire (My favorite)
- Curb your Enthusiasm
- Sex & the City
- and many many more…
Which leads us to the disaster part. Recently, they changed the name from HBO Max to just Max.
This to me is the destruction of a half century of brand building. The HBO sound is gone. The HBO name is gone. Max means nothing to me. It’s most closely related to Cinemax which was another cheaper channel from cable. It had a reputation for cheap, often tawdry, stuff.
Brands are not to be trifled with and HBO just committed 1st degree brandicide. The sentence will be reduced loyalty and revenue.
The next brand annihilation has been the social media platform, Twitter. This brand has not been active as long as HBO, but the brand destruction has been even more devastating if that is possible.
The brand has been beleaguered since 2016 when it was used (along with Facebook) as a toll for Russian hackers to tilt our election and subvert our democracy. In the years that followed, things have been getting sketchy on the little bird site. More and more hate speech and radicalization have been festering in the nest.
Enter Elon Musk.
Between April 14 and October 27, 2022, Elon musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion dollars. I don’t even think he really wanted the company. It all seemed so strange and half baked. He tried to back out of it several times and couldn’t legally do it. I honestly think he is a malignant narcissist with questionable intelligence and extremely poor judgement. (Sound like anyone else you know on the world stage?) But anyway, back to the brand destruction.
Everyone knows the little bird. It’s been the brand identity for a decade and one of the most known websites in the world. They invented the language of tweets and follows. It has been a hugely important service for billions of people world wide.
Elon’s first acts as CEO was to fire half of the company. Then he changed the rules and opened the door to a massive rise in hate speech. Then he eliminated the blue checkmark which was a verified user and replaced it with a paid service which yielded a pandoras box of parody and look-a-like accounts.
One account looked like Ely Lily and posted the following:
Their stockholders were not pleased. See chart of that week.
Things have been getting steadily worse. Elon is not paying rent. He truthfully seems unhinged to me. Every act of his seems like a childish prank and not the act of a serious person.
This final change was to swap the logo for the letter X. Their homepage makes no sense to me. It says the following.
Why would he do this? It just throws away the only thing making Twitter valuable. The brand is all they have left. Apparently, Elon wanted to change Paypal to be x.com.
Musk wanted to change the popular PayPal branding to X, even though customer surveys indicated that wasn’t a good idea. Sacks decided that wasn’t going to happen and was among the architects of the coup that removed Musk, according to The PayPal Wars by Eric M. Jackson.https://www.theverge.com/23814989/elon-musk-banking-x-paypal
This makes no sense to me at all, but the Twitter brand is all but dead. Full disclosure, I could’t stand what was happening there and deleted my account earlier this year.
These are two good examples, but I think it’s happening more and more. (Facebook-> Meta for example) Brands are amazing psychological devices to bake an enormous message into a simple logo and sound. I don’t understand why brands are thrown out like that.
Anyway, nothing to do other than lament the loss. I miss HBO. Twitter not as much.