We're not quite halfway through the year, but HBO Max has already given us a candidate for the most contentious rebrand of 2023. Now just called Max, the streaming platform continues to be mocked online for having to use its new strapline to clarify that it is actually still the home of HBO content.
One big winner to emerge from the debacle is NBC's rival platform, Peacock. It's dramatically upped its street cred with a single tweet poking fun at the controversy. The platform has promised not to follow the same strategy (it may have taken some insight from the best branding books).
I know you’re all very disappointed, but I will *not* be dropping the first half of my name any time soon 👀May 23, 2023
In case you missed the news, HBO Max is now just Max. But to make sure we understand that it's effectively still HBO Max, its new strapline is "The one to watch for HBO"... right.
The merits of a rebrand are always doubtful when it needs to be explained, making the identity more convoluted than before. But this isn't the only criticism it's facing. Many people are also bemused by the fact that Max has gone and adopted the same brand colours as just about every other streaming platform out there.
I'd like to be deadly serious for a minuteIs this the worst rebrand of all time? "THE ONE TO WATCH FOR HBO"They probably paid millions and millions of dollars for that line. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/UguqkXvvHOMay 23, 2023
At least the new MAX app chose blue to differentiate itself from every other streaming app… pic.twitter.com/YqY7ycN0lVMay 23, 2023
And that brings us to NBC's Peacock. Not missing an opportunity to comment, it's clarified on Twitter that it will not be jumping on the trend by dropping the first half of its own name, much to some viewers' disappointment. The service is named after NBC's logo, which depicts a male peafowl, but dropping the 'pea' would of course result in a somewhat NSFW brand name.
starting today, the peacock streaming service is now known as cock pic.twitter.com/4pmVOlltnlMay 23, 2023
One short tweet, but it's worked wonders for Peacock's credibility. "Someone in marketing is getting a big, fat bonus this year," one person commented on the tweet. "Where do I send my nomination for tweet of the year?" someone else asked (others are wondering brands started referring to themselves in the first person personal pronoun).
Of course, many rebrands involve a period of transition, and HBO's hope is presumably that the Max branding will soon acquire enough power of its own that it will no longer need the HBO name to back it up, but it still seems a very strange move when HBO itself carries such clout. The decision is almost as bizarre as the new Kia logo (the bad in our piece on the good, the bad and ugly in car logo rebrands).