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Goodbye Qwikster, Hello Again Netflix

A lesson in Web Branding

Well finally Netflix is making at least one good recent business decision, which can be summed up with "If it ain't broke don't fix it."  Today it announced that it is dropping plans to spin off it's DVD by mail rental business into a separate company called Qwikster. It will maintain all its operations under a single website and company name -- Netflix.

If you've spent a decade building up a brand and consumer loyalty on the internet, why would you confuse your customers by introducing an entirely new brand? The ill-conceived Qwikster brand can also be used to caution against quirky word spellings that could easily confuse people -- or land them at some incorrect website due to spelling issues. Yes, Netflix uses an "x" place of "cks" but that shorthand seems more common and understandable than following a q with a 'w' instead of a 'u' and omitting a 'c' before a k.

One might have hoped that users would have adapted to the changes, but when you are in a recurring  subscription based fee model -- why would you give any of your customers reason to cancel? Those monthly payments are one of those things most users don't think about, until you give them a reason to do so.

They could have followed the cable company playbook of small monthly increases -- where ones bill is constantly creeping up a dollar or two -- but instead they completely cancelled the combined "bundle" discounted plan that allowed users both options DVD and streaming options under the same plan -- and forced users to buy both plans separately. People like the idea of a bundle and a discount -- it's worked for cable and phone companies for decades. There likely would have been little customer outcry at a $1 increase or maybe $2 increase -- but practically doubling prices in the middle of an economic downtown is probably not a great idea.

Netflix is learning that people like their "old Coke" brand more than the "new Coke," although with the continuing price increases they haven't completely returned to the "old Netflix" brand which consumers loved so much. It's going to take some time for them to regain their users' trust and loyalty, which is so important to a web brand.

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