Why + was a smart naming move in streaming

How what seems like lazy branding is actually a savvy move.

Barry W. Enderwick

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Over the last couple of decades, I’ve worked on a number of naming projects. From companies to divisions to even an open-source code project for Intel. So when Apple announced the name of their streaming service as AppleTV+ I was amused at what I considered a “meh” name. Then came Disney+, EPSN+, and the announcement of Discovery+. I was sneering at the seeming laziness exhibited in naming these new services.

Except I was wrong. Like, way wrong. Here’s why.

Brand equity has real value

To see why we need to start with the concept of brand equity. You can think of brand equity like a bank. Some efforts deposit into it, others take out of it. When a company has a solid brand position and applies it consistently over time, it deposits into brand equity.

The more consistent a company is over time, the bigger the deposit into the brand bank becomes. And the amount accelerates over time.

By the time upstart mobile phone network Cingular bought AT&T Wireless in 2004, AT&T Wireless, which started life as McCaw Cellular, had been around for seventeen years. The AT&T name had been around since the late 1800s.

Cingular, with its catchy name and bouncy logo “Jack”, decided that they wanted to fold the AT&T Wireless brand into Cingular.

I’ve written before about when a company should change its logo before and the same holds true for names. Why? Brand equity. Take Cingular Wireless for example.

On his way out the door to become the Brand Manager for Netflix, then AT&T Wireless Brand Wrangler, Gary McMath ran the numbers for Cingular on how much it would cost to replace the brand value of AT&T Wireless — $5 billion. Yes, that is five “with a b” billion. Undaunted Cingular moved forward with the plan anyway.

Then, in 2006, just $2 billion into their rebrand, they decided to just go ahead and stick with AT&T Wireless saving $3 billion more.

Why + adds so much to a name

This brings me to why I was wrong to think the “+” naming scheme was anything but smart…

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Barry W. Enderwick

Brand/marketing executive, Kaizen (ex Netflix). I write on startups, strategy, business, culture & design. Also Sandwiches Of History on Insta/TikTok/YouTube