We know we’re bound to see numerous reviews regarding Clear Channel‘s recent decision to rebrand as iHeartMedia. In case you were considering joining the conversation, here are some key points to remember regarding the rebrand:
- The company just dropped “radio” from its name two years ago.
- Clear Channel has 840 radio stations sitting at the core of its business model.
- iHeartMedia sounds a whole lot like iHeartRadio, the company’s leading platform (I even wrote the wrong name in the title of this article before realizing what I had done).
- Bob Pittman (iHeartMedia’s Chairman and CEO) said that the new name will allow them to better tie with the popularity of iHeartRadio, something they want since no one seems to know what Clear Channel is anymore and iHeartRadio happens to be the brand they’ve been using with consumers anyways.
- To Pittman’s point above, what about the B2B side of things? For example, it seems that Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (OOH advertising) will retain its name.
- According to Pittman, iHeartRadio is leveraging a good 70% brand awareness and 97 million monthly digital uniques.
- The company is still facing a debt of over $20B thanks to its buyout in 2008.
Confused yet? Yea, so are we. With such a list of circumstances and considerations, we cannot seem to find the right answer. All we know is it couldn’t have been easy.
We asked some of our friends over at Sullivan what they thought and it seems to be an overwhelmingly negative response. One of the partners and executive creative director, John Paolini, said, “My reaction is: why bother. If you’re going to change your business name, make sure it shoots far, captures an emotion that resonates with the audiences that engage with your brand and, most importantly, make sure it reflects a big shift or move happening within the company.”
His colleague, Jennifer Meyers, seems to agree, adding, “I’ve seen this move before. When established companies like Clear Channel struggle to keep their leadership positions in industries that are rapidly transforming – like media – renaming is rarely the solution. Look at Tyco for example. At a time of struggle, the company didn’t rename itself but instead focused on solving its business issues, nursed itself back to health and kept its corporate brand name, and all the heritage that comes with it, intact. But it all boils down to when renaming makes sense and when it doesn’t. Renaming is a costly undertaking that can cause more confusion amongst stakeholders so it’s only a wise choice when it reflects a significant business change (e.g. M&A). In the case of Clear Channel, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
In infamous branding terms, something just doesn’t feel right. Thoughts, anyone?