Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rated Xfinity: What's the Psychology behind Comcast's New Brand?

Verizon has FiOS, AT&T has U-verse, Cablevision has Optimum…now Comcast has Xfinity? Make sense? Hmmm…not really…

Xfinity is the new name for Comcast's internet, phone and TV services (the former Comcast Triple Play). According to Comcast: "Xfinity communicates Comcast's constant product upgrades and innovation." But most importantly, Comcast says the name is NOT a futile effort to escape its image as a horrible service provider (even though its customer-satisfaction rating is among the lowest in the industry).

So why did Comcast change the name of its services and why the heck did it chose such a weird, sci-fi, quasi-pornographic moniker like Xfinity? I personally believe Comcast made the change because it's feeling the pinch from Verizon’s FiOS brand. FiOS has great brand awareness, and Verizon's done a great job marketing the product as a fun, complete and improved solution to cable. So for Comcast to fight the stigma of being "the cable company" they had to do some re-branding. Oh and I have no doubt Comcast would love to shed some of their poor reputation – just like when Philip Morris became Altria and Blackwater became Xe.

So why Xfinity? To most at first listen, this new brand name sounds like an adult film production company (here is a hilarious Time/CNN blog about this confusion). While I don’t believe Comcast was shooting for a porn reference, I do believe they might have hired a few too many pharmaceutical brand consultants. So many branded pharmaceuticals include either an X or Z in the name. So many in fact, the FDA had to put a moratorium on using these letters in branded drug names to stop confusion (z 's and x's sound alike...don't want to get your Zantac confused with your Xanax). According to a great Stanford Medical Magazine article, Z's and X's imply speed. So next time you're taking Zyrtec, XYZal, Zoloft, Zocor, Clarinex, Xopenex, or Zithromax see if you feel the drug kicking-in extra fast….just like your cable and internet thanks to Comcast's "constant product upgrades and innovation." OHHH…I get it now!

Overall, here is my humble opinion on Comcast's new brand. Other than sounding like something you’d find on the front of a dirty movie box, the name Xfinity describes a techie's dream…something that’s going to bring you more bytes and gigahertz. FiOS on the other hand sounds playful - something fun and entertaining; something that’s going to make your life more enjoyable not just increase your connectivity statistics. Seeing that there aren't nearly as many techies out there as people that would like their $150/month Xfinity bill to bring more fun to their lives…I think Comcast might have missed the boat with this name change. But with a roughly infinite (or should I say Xfinite...sorry for the cheese, I just couldn't help it) marketing budget, I’m sure we’ll choke down Xfinity in whatever way Comcast wants us to…and with a stranglehold on most markets (for the time being), Xfinity is all we got.

What do you think about the Xfinity brand? At first listen, what emotions and images were triggered by this name in your mind? How is this new identity going to affect Comcast's reputation and more importantly, bottom line (is it waste of advertising money or valuable defensive measures against the emerging FiOS brand in major markets like Philadelphia)?


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1 comment:

  1. I can understand re-branding and the marketing gimmick, but they will always be just plain old Comcast to me. Just because they are changing their name to Xfinity, doesn’t mean the service is changing. At DISH Network we haven’t changed our name and still have lower prices on our programming than Comcast. As a DISH Network customer and employee I switched from Comcast to DISH, and have never been happier with my pay TV service.