-Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash Name Development
I sometimes get asked by prospective clients if they should change their name, and I help them evaluate if a change is necessary. But sometimes there are stubborn companies who persist in marketing a name that is not right. Overstock.com is a prime example of this behavior.
In early 1999, Dr. Patrick M. Byrne recognized the potential in liquidating excess inventory through the Internet. He started Overstock.com as a way for consumers to gain easy access to closeout merchandise. Overstock.com is a pretty good name for that business model.
In January 2011, Overstock.com acquired the O.co URL and began incorporating it into its marketing. CEO Dr. Patrick M. Byrne said, “When we first started our business in 1999, we only sold surplus inventory. We are no longer just an online liquidator. Our current offerings span from furniture and home decor to cars. We want an identity that more accurately reflects our company as it has evolved: hence ‘O.co’.”
I’ll admit I’m biased, but the strategy shift provided the prime opportunity to change their name.
However, Overstock.com doubled down and tried to leverage its name through a sexy sell with a campaign about “It’s All About The ‘O’ “(wink, wink added for emphasis). While the Overstock.com name faded into the background it was still the official name of the company.
Fast forward to today. Overstock.com continues to use the name that the CEO admitted didn’t fit six years ago. But now, instead of hiding their name embarrassment, they want to draw attention to it. Their latest campaign uses offensive “name shaming” language to point out that people also look at Overstock.com and think they only sell closeout items.
Dear Overstock.com CEO:
WILL YOU PLEASE JUST CHANGE YOUR NAME ALREADY?????
Overstock.com has spent years explaining their business model because they continue to use a name that does not fit it. How much further ahead would the company have been if they had just changed their name when given the right opportunity years ago?
We all get attached to things and letting go is hard. But there are times when you need to suck it up and change your name rather than continue to use a name that does not fit your current or future strategy!