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Qwikster – the brand that never was

Posted by ipelton on: October 10th, 2011

Three weeks ago the hugely popular and successful DVD and online video service Netflix announced a new brand name – Qwikster – for its DVD service. The move was panned by many and for good reason – Netflix was built on its DVD business before online video watching was ubiquitous so why ‘spin off’ the original service? And why have a separate service/brand in the first place given how successful Netflix is now and how well known the brand is? The split would have required users who wanted both features to maintain separate online accounts and logins to manage the services.

Until this year, the Netflix brand was charming and could do no wrong. This bungle is sure to have scuffed the brand’s image.

But kudos to Netflix for making it right — today Netflix announced that Qwikster is no longer. Perhaps the Qwikster brand name will still be used by Netflix is some manner, but at least as a separate service that would require separate accounts and logins for users, Qwikster is gone.

One can only imagine how much was spent on consultants and and attorneys related to this failed brand launch. At least when the Qwikster name was announced Netflix did take steps to protect the name by filing three trademark applications [click marks for USPTO records]:

 In the digital social-media age we are in, brands can rise and grow rapidly — Netflix a great example — but they can fail even faster. Netflix made a bad decision with the planned launch of Qwikster. Has it righted the ship soon enough to avoid real damage? Only time will tell.  

Recent times have seen a rash of brand mis-management. Twitter is entangled in several disputes due to its delay in protecting all its trademarks as it launched a grew a few years ago. Google, one of the most valuable companies in the world, has failed to protect all of its trademarks. The University of Colorado recently spent more than $700,000 on a minor logo change. The goods news is that we can learn from and avoid their blunders!

What is the worst brand failure of recent times? The Gap? Qwikster? Something else? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Bonus: click the NETFLIX logo for USPTO records:

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