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May 8, 2007

Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail: Do Too Many Big Names Spoil the Brand?

live_hotmail.jpgThe news of the launch of Windows Live Hotmail, the rebranding of MSN Hotmail, was no surprise.

Like the writer at the SunbeltBLOG I am not much of a fan of Microsoft’s product naming nomenclature, and in other posts I have looked into the Windows Live Hotmail brand name—the best part of it is “Hotmail,” as Microsoft overuses Live.

A New York Times article on Saturday about the troubles suffered by merged FedEx and Kinko’s best describes the trouble many people will probably have with the Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail brand name.

FedEx_Kinko's.pngKinko’s was once known for its laid back culture, while FedEx is known for its clipped efficiency. It is hard for a store to be known as both laid back and super-efficient, the two corporate brews just do no mix. FedEx Kinko’s is thus having some hard times despite the obvious synergy in their business offerings.

Hotmail is one of the oldest online mail services that I know of, a logical base for Microsoft which wants to use it to catch up with Gmail and Yahoo, but by forcing not only the Microsoft name but the Windows name as well as the Live name next to it, it is hard to feel a sense of authenticity.

I think this was named by committee. You know what they say about naming by committee. When trying to name a horse, you end up with a camel.

Does the Windows Live brand name really have the same longevity and equity as the Hotmail name?

I suppose that the success of this name is intertwined with the success of the Windows Live platform of services. If I were a Microsoft/Hotmail user, I might feel funny using my new Vista to access Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail.

In the meantime, it is still good to see Hotmail alive (which takes its name from the acronym HTML.)

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Posted by William Lozito at May 8, 2007 9:01 AM
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