John Scalzi has serious sci-fi cred: Yesterday he was nominated for three Hugo awards, the highest science-fiction honor in the whole wide universe. So although I shared a few modest thoughts about the renaming of the Sci-Fi Channel a few days ago, Scalzi's really the guy you should be paying attention to. Here's what he has to say in a post titled "The Venereal Disease Channel Imaginatizes Greatastically"; I can't help quoting almost all of it, because Scalzi's such a brilliant writer:
Note to SciFi Channel: when your new brand identity means “venereal disease” in any language, it’s the sort of thing that — excuse the term — gets around.
You would think NBC Universal’s brand people might have caught this (heh) ahead of time. They do have people for this. And maybe they did catch it, but figured, heck, who knows Polish? Aside from 40 million Poles? Problem is, this is one of those things that Those Perverse Internets, and the equally-perverse people involved in them (not coincidentally SciFi Channel’s primary viewing demographic) will find out almost immediately and then proceed to have a big ol’ jolly field day with. As they did, and are doing.
Look: When your core audience looks at your new branding and exclaims “Hey! It’s the Venereal Disease Channel!” from the day you announce it until the day, a few years later, when you find slink away from it and try to pretend it never happened, you may have chosen your brand identity poorly. Yes, “Syfy” is brand extensible. But then, the Polish “syfy” is extensible too, in its way, although not in a way most people would want. So, yes, this is a problem. Glad it’s not my problem.
To be honest, however, the incipient “Syfy” branding doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the new brand’s tagline: “Imagine Greater.” I mean: really? “Imagine Greater”? What, were complete sentences too dear down at the marketing shop? I know there’s a recession on, but maybe they could have checked in the couch cushions for loose change. Or if they were simply intending to break grammar into pieces, for jazzy, kicky effect, why not go all the way? “Imagine Greater” is settling for the bronze when “Imaginate Greatably” is within one’s grasp. And, hey, it’s brand extendable.
Read the whole post, and the comments, too.
Hat tip to attentive reader Wes Phillips, who writes a pretty cool blog himself.