The backlash at Netflix's new company name borders on hysterical. Brand loyalty can "qwikly" turn to brand hatred when these five business rebranding rules are ignored...
1. A company name change should be prompted by need
Most successful rebrands come about because the need is apparent. The old name could be outdated, outmoded, inaccurate, misleading, etc. In this case, there was nothing wrong with the Netflix name in the mind of the consumer.
2. The new name should be better than the old one
Taking a slightly misspelled name like Netflix, (one misspell) and twisting it up even more to Qwikster (two misspells) just doesn't make sense. The new name loses all reference to movies and shifts the emphasis to speed. Getting DVDs by mail is probably the slowest way possible considering the availability of Redbox.
3. The new name should be tested
Branding a new company is one thing, but rebranding an existing company means there is more at stake. Brand name validation/research would be in order for a company this size. And these services are available in a matter of weeks, not months. I'm guessing that Qwikster would not have risen to the top of a brand testing panel.
4. The new name should go through a soft intro
In this case, it would have been good to plant the idea of speed and convenience in the mind of the customer so the name change would seem more intuitive. Netflix could have said, "We're moving faster to serve you better, and we'll soon have a name that means it." At least it would appear there was a brand strategy - one that is proactive vs. reactive.
5. The new name should have all the web pieces in place
There's nothing worse, when rebranding a company, then to make a big splash and not have all the internet players in place. In this case, the @Qwikster Twitter name was in use by someone using a pot smoking Elmo avatar. This is probably not the best spokesperson for a new company brand.
Rebranding a company provides a great opportunity to enhance the company's brand position and message, (if done correctly.) If not, you could find yourself in proverbial "qwiksand."