At first I thought this was a way-too-early April fool’s joke. On the heels of some recent “streamlined” rebranding failures (Pepsi, Tropicana) I just figured someone tried to ridicule their efforts by doing something worse.
What could possibly possess a much-loved channel to boldly go and cripple their image? Who can we hold responsible for this decision? Read on as we discuss their skewed logic, in a futile attempt to understand why it’s not cool to be into alients, robots, and spaceships.
So here are the facts:
- After 16 years of catering to our taste for Robots, Aliens, and Spaceships, SciFi Channel is morphing their name into SyFy as “part of a rebranding campaign that seeks to distinguish the channel and its programming from cable competitors — 75 of which are also measured by the Nielsen ratings service.” (via NYTimes)
I’m sorry? How many other SciFi Channel’s are there? “SyFy” sounds like a street term for a disease one would catch from not having protection.
- “Without abandoning our legacy or our core audience, we needed to cultivate a distinct point of view with a name that we could own that invites more people in and recognizes our broader range of programming with literally something for everyone,” says SciFi President David Howe. (via SciFi Wire)
Cut the crap, David. If you read between the lines, he’s trying to tell us that it will then be totally fine to throw in some reruns of The O.C. and Dawson’s Creek, and probably another reality cooking show, because that sort of programming offers “something for everyone” just because the channel’s name will be so ambiguous and abstract. Defenders of this choice would tell you that it just makes them more “unique.” I say, leetspeak isn’t funny or “cool” outside of internet chatrooms and WoW. It’s stupid, juvenile, and encourages bad spelling.
- Syfy—unlike the generic entertainment category “sci-fi”—firmly establishes a uniquely ownable trademark that is portable across all nonlinear digital platforms and beyond, from Hulu to iTunes. Syfy also creates an umbrella brand name that can extend into new adjacent businesses under the Syfy Ventures banner, including Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids. (via SciFi Wire)
Now, this is the one sensible reason I could support. I understand that one can’t copyright the name “Scifi” because it’s shorthand for the name of an entire genre.
- This is the one that pisses me off.
The principal reason the idea kept coming up, Mr. Howe said, was a belief “the Sci Fi name is limiting.”“If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future,” he added. “That didn’t capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes.”
I don’t even know what to say about that. Clearly Mr. Howe. doesn’t know his audience. If you’re into space, aliens, robots, the future, you’re most likely to be into all other realms of fantasy. Whoever told him that Star Wars fans hate J.R.R. Tolkien and Ghosthunters needs to be punched in the throat.
Reportedly the name “Syfy” was a brainchild of an internal team, along with Landor & Associates (who I truthfully respect). I can’t help but think that a corporate highroller suggested it in a meeting, because it just “sounds cool.”
The slogan for this new campaign is “Imagine Greater.” It sounds like a placeholder for something more substantial and provocative, but perhaps it also speaks the truth. For instance there are many things we could imagine that are greater than this rebranding.
Edit: Admittedly, I reacted to this change before I really thought about it. I can support the copyright reason, but every other excuse to rebrand seems empty and meaningless. It’s just a bunch of PR nonsense. I just wish there was something more remarkable about the logo itself that would impress the masses enough to get over the fact that it’s “Syfy” and not “Sci Fi”