Today, I explain how Max was somehow the worst possible reasonable name that HBO and Discovery could have chosen for their streaming service.
In Remember to Forget, we spotlight pop culture stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all, so you’re stuck in the same boat as me!
Earlier today, I explained the oddity of About.com, which was one of the most popular websites in the world for years. However, while the website was very popular, the company that purchased it in 2013 decided that it had lost “mind share,” meaning that while it was still popular, no one exactly knew what About.com was, well, about. And that’s a legit concern, no doubt about it. The site was making hay on the fact that everyone just knew the name, “About.com,” and not anything more than that about the site. So the company decided to build up and split off the individual aspects of About.com instead, as independent verticals. Which, again, is not unreasonable, except, why in the world would you ever get rid of About.com in the process? You had one of THE MOST POPULAR WEBSITES IN THE WORLD, and you just…gave it up? There no longer IS an About.com. It’s just gone, replaced by “DotDash” (which itself just links you to the other verticals, so it is not a site in and of itself). The verticals are all fairly popular, like VeryWell (the Health vertical, its most popular vertical), but none of them are anywhere near as popular as About.com was to begin with (and it’s not like About Health wasn’t also very popular BEFORE it became VeryWell). It just seems like shooting yourself in the foot in the name of having distinctive branding.
However, as much as I disagree with that decision, it doesn’t come CLOSE to the mind numbingly awful decision of Warner Bros. Discovery to rename HBO Max as Max.
We all get the problem. It’s an obvious problem. Discovery is a popular brand. It owned a streaming service called Discovery+ that was relatively successful, but not THAT successful. Discovery then purchases WarnerMedia from AT&T.
WarnerMedia had a very popular streaming service called HBO Max, with the idea being that instead of just HBO, this streaming service “maxes” things out by giving you a ton of other stuff on TOP of just what you’d get from an HBO subscription. That’s a fine name for a streaming service.
Throwing Max or Plus on to the name of your existing brand is fine. No concerns from me.
The issue, of course, was that now that Discover owned the company, it didn’t want to subsume ITS brand into HBO’s brand. After all, once you throw Discovery’s content into the streaming service, a good chunk of the streaming service would now be Discovery’s brand of reality shows. So you don’t want to lose that. At the same time, HBO is one of the most respected brands in all of Hollywood, so you don’t want to lose THAT, either.
So they came up with a compromise. Since neither one wanted to give up their valuable branding to the other, they decided to instead BOTH give up their valuable branding and simply keep the “Max” part of the name, renaming the streaming service simply Max.
That is just shockingly stupid. It’s beyond stupid. It’s almost unfathomable how bad of an idea that is from a branding perspective. You have two of the top brand names in the industry, including possibly THE most respected brand name in HBO, and in order to avoid favoring either side of your newly merged company, you’re going to lose BOTH OF THEM?
There’s cutting your nose off to spite your face, and then there’s punching yourself in the face of no reason, which is what this is. There is NO good reason for this. HBODiscovery+ is a terrible name, but at least it would be SOMEthing. I used “Realistic” in the headline because obviously there are worse UNrealistic names, like, “Stinkblossom” or whatever, but of REALISTIC options, dropping HBO and keeping Max is just the worst possible choice.
Hell, come up with some new word like Hulu. You just can’t take the existing amplifier of the original name, HBO Max, and keep the amplifier! You can’t call your company “Plus.” Or, like, “Inc.”
There simply is no reasonable explanation for why you would want to do this, and hopefully they’ll eventually come up with a better name at some day, but they’ve obviously already done a lot of brand name damage with this nonsense.
Thanks to Larry Young for reminding me that I’ve been meaning to do this rant for a while. If anyone has a suggestion for a Remember to Forget, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!