Weights Watchers Changes its Name

On NBR with with Susan Herera about Weight Watchers name change:

HERERA: Let`s start with WW. The market liked it. It was up 4.5 percent today. Last year, it was a huge gainer on the stock market.

What do you make of their move today?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well, you know, brands are about standing out or die. And so, to stand out, you need to be relevant and Weight Watchers realizes that the past was about dieting and looking good. Today and tomorrow is about feeling good and getting more out of life.

And so, they want to create a platform that`s not just about diet but is beyond diet and in many ways they`re an ecommerce business that can be selling dietary products, health food products, they can be selling healthcare equipment. There`s lots of opportunity for a stretch for WW far more than it did when it was Weight Watchers.

GRIFFETH: Then there are those companies that don`t want to remind people of the past of what`s happened. GMAC (NYSE:GJM) that Sue mentioned before, GMAC (NYSE:GJM) Bank becoming Ally Bank. GMAC (NYSE:GJM) was notorious for some of the subprime loans that led to the financial crisis, right?

CRUTCHFIELD: Absolutely. And I think — you know, one wants to break away from the past. GMAC (NYSE:GJM) is a classic example of that where, yes, it was literally drowned out by the whole subprime mortgage scandal. So, it needed to signal change.

One of the best ways for a company to signal change is through a naming and identity program. It`s the only public way one can do that. But the question is how well you do it, how well do you manage the process but most importantly, you know, what do people think? What`s the perception especially from the investor market?

HERERA: You point out that an unsuccessful name change, and I`m sure there has been more than this one, but this one everybody will probably remember, Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) became BlackBerry. You say by the time they did that and tried to become more hip and more relevant, it was too late.

CRUTCHFIELD: Yes, I mean, they lost their relevance. I remember
recommending Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) back in 2000 change its name to BlackBerry but they were too arrogant to recognize their most important brand was BlackBerry. And that disconnect I think really hurt them from a development point of view. And by the time they started to grab hold of that name BlackBerry, BlackBerry has lost their relevance and so had
Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and the rest is history.

GRIFFETH: Then there`s Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). They restructured the company to create this umbrella name Alphabet, but we still find ourselves even today, years later, referring to the company as Alphabet, better known as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

CRUTCHFIELD: Right.

GRIFFETH: I mean, whether that name change has worked or not remains to be seen, huh?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well, I think it`s really about — that`s a business issue. That`s a business definition issue. Don`t forget they used to be called BackRub up until 2000. So, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was a far better improvement on that.

But Alphabet is really about that view the company has of A to Z of any investment. It`s got YouTube. It`s phenomenally successful Android platform. It also creates products like Pixel. So, it doesn`t want to be defined by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) which is a search engine and a very successful one, but it`s just part of its portfolio.

So, strategically they`re trying to build a reputation around Alphabet. It`s particularly an investor brand as opposed to a consumer brand like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

HERERA: Very interesting, Dean. As always, thanks for joining us.

Author: Dean Crutchfield

Builds Brands and Fixes Them When Broken