AOL Time Warner stresses name-change practicality

NEW YORK: The rebranding of AOL Time Warner, the embattled media goliath, is being done in part for communications purposes, said Edward Adler, SVP for corporate communications for the soon-to-be Time Warner.

NEW YORK: The rebranding of AOL Time Warner, the embattled media goliath, is being done in part for communications purposes, said Edward Adler, SVP for corporate communications for the soon-to-be Time Warner.

The company's board voted last month to drop the name of the online division from its corporate moniker. To many, it was a long-awaited move that symbolized how poorly the company has fared since the 2000 mega-merger that forged it.

But in speaking to PRWeek last week, Adler focused on the more practical underpinnings of the name change.

The corporate name, he said, at times diminished the power of the potent brands within AOL Time Warner. These include a host of magazine titles, several TV properties, a music division, and a movie studio, as well as many other media brands.

"All have very distinct images and market themselves to a variety of audiences," he said, referring to brands like HBO, People magazine, and CNN. "We don't really market our corporate brand except to Wall Street, the press, and our employees. We want to make sure the identity of our corporate brands doesn't overshadow the identities of our very strong businesses. When you think of the company's current name - AOL Time Warner - it's added to the confusion."

The company has hired a branding consultant, Lippincott Mercer, to help create a logo for Time Warner at a relatively minor cost that is expected to total less than $300,000.

The company, however, may revert to its original logo, but in either case, a final decision is expected in a matter of weeks.

By most accounts, the naming of AOL Time Warner has been a contentious issue since the merger was announced. There have been many reports that Time Warner staff members have long been irked by the presence of the troubled online company. But, ironically, the company says the recent drive to rebrand as Time Warner came from the leadership of the AOL division.

"The challenge is to make people understand that there's a real communications rationale to changing our name, rather than just an emotional one," Adler said.

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