Netflix, once known as one of the most successful dot-com startups is going through a rough time with some serious branding mistakes. Today I read on engadget.com that Netflix bought DVD.com… why would they do that?
Seven years ago the world looked great for Netflix. In 2005 it was shipping 1 Million DVDs per day to its subscribers. Wow! Netflix had an amazing position: it simply was #1 in the DVD rental. Netflix was nicely riding on the DVD player sales. There was one problem though… the DVD player was eventually going to be replaced by digital distribution.
The Netflix folks saw that coming and in 2007 they introduced streaming under the same Netflix brand. The service became successful but times changed and in Q3 2011 Netflix lost 800.000 subscribers.
The Netflix folks saw that one coming too and decided that the strong brand Netflix should live on in the streaming business, making place for a new brand called Qwikster for the DVD rental business. A couple of months later the idea was buried.
Or… was it? Netflix has now bought DVD.com. I am sure one of the ideas of the folks at Netflix is to use that for the rental business, moving Netflix over to the streaming business forever.
Now… what is going on here? Is this really the smartest move? No it is not!
Firstly, Netflix should have retained the Netflix brand for the DVD rental business only. The brand was the number one in the category. Even though the category is dying (and with that the brand) it would have been the best thing.
Secondly, for the streaming business a second brand would have been appropriate. It is a substantial new business / category in which the company could have been number one again. This brand should have been positioned as the streaming service.
Thirdly, buying a generic domain “DVD.com” is really a waste of money. Consumers are not thinking “I’d like to rent a DVD so I go to DVD.com”, they think “I’d like to rent a DVD so I go to Netflix.com”. The DVD.com “brand” is a waste of money.