Max Mayhem: Warner Bros. Discovery's Rebrand Fail

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max logo winHave you been following the introduction of Max, the rebrand of HBO Max? It’s crazy! Parent company Warner Bros. Discovery took a decades old brand, HBO, a pioneer in the world of delivering video content, and stripped away the brand equity.

Some are calling it a New Coke decision.

As my daughter Reiko so eloquently said in our book Fanocracy, once you unleash your products, services, and ideas into the world they no longer belong to you, they belong to fans.

The suits at large companies frequently fail to recognize that marketing and branding is about emotion built up over time. So what if New Coke “taste’s better”? People hated the idea that the product they love was changed.

Max launches May 23

introducing maxIn its press release, Warner Bros. Discovery introduced Max as an “enhanced streaming service… the destination for HBO Originals, Warner Bros. films, Max Originals, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an expansive offering of kids content, and best-in-class programming across food, home, reality, lifestyle and documentaries from leading brands like HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and more. Max will stand out amongst streamers by uniquely combining unrivaled breadth and superior quality with iconic franchises and strong product experience, all for great value.”

Some companies are so focused on telling customers how to enjoy their products, they miss the fan-made culture that has blossomed around them.

The new tagline seems to be: Max – the one to watch for every mood and every moment.

“The Max service is a wide-ranging mosaic of content that will be unmatched in the breadth, reach, and excellence of its offerings,” said Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO, HBO and Max Content. “We are unique because we have the best-in-all-categories across the board by any measure – be they ratings, awards, fandom. We know we can satisfy any craving because we have the brands that people love. At Max, they will find what they want, when they want it.”

Here are a few of my favorite reactions to this announcement.

Bob Lefsetz: “Only a newbie with no history would jettison the brand value of HBO. It would be like the Rolling Stones replacing two members and calling themselves the Drivers. Actually, the Stones have replaced two members and they still call themselves the Stones!”

Scott Galloway: "…what has got to be a first-ballot-hall-of-fame strategic head-up-your-ass decision: Do away with one of the great artisanal brands of the 20th century, HBO."

What do you think?

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