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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

HBO Max: A Misstep in Brand Strategy

The Nike logo, Ford logo, and HBO Max logo with a red X over HBO

You can’t have "Nike" in the name and then put this incredibly varied product portfolio under it and expect consumers to have the same equity in the brand.


You can’t have "Ford" in the name and then put this incredibly varied vehicle portfolio under it and expect consumers to have the same equity in the brand.


You can’t have "HBO" in the name and then put this incredibly varied library under it and expect consumers to have the same equity in the brand.


Only one of these is a real quote...


... but all three sound equally unconvincing, don't they?


In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Patrizio “Pato” Spagnoletto, global chief marketing officer for Warner Bros. Discovery’s direct-to-consumer business, is quoted as saying, "HBO is an iconic brand that stands for premium quality content."


On that, he's right: for decades, "HBO" meant premium quality content.


The mistake was in defining "premium quality content" far too narrowly...


... and believing HBO couldn't also serve as a master brand to encompass "Warner Bros. theatrical, the Discovery shows, news and sports"...


... and thus deciding that abandoning decades of hard-earned brand equity by ditching "HBO" and adopting the generic "Max" was a good idea.


It takes a lot of time and money to build a strong brand.


If you manage to build one, don't be so willing to throw it away.


 

P.S. My thoughts on the decision to lose "HBO" in favour of "Max" is an opinion rooted in some well-established thinking: if you'd like to understand brand portfolio strategy better, David A. Aaker's Brand Portfolio Strategy is an insightful read. And if your business needs some help with building or reinvigorating your brand portfolio, let's chat.


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