By way of Brand New, we have the above disastrous rebranding of the Sci Fi Channel. Apparently, the logic is that “Sci Fi” is generic and (implicitly) not copyrightable or readily searchable; thus the embrace of the inane trend of “creative” misspellings. First, if I saw “Syfy” written down, I would not immediately be certain how to pronounce it (it could be “siffy”…with some unfortunately associations following from that first syllable…) and so I wouldn’t necessarily think of the Sci Fi Channel or science fiction at all. Of course, that’s apparently part of the point: from a clear, specific identity (“we broadcast science fiction stuff”), the network is trying to “broaden” its appeal to…a generic mishmosh of still generally teen-boy-appealing genres (“mystery, action, adventure” are three genres mentioned in the rollout of the new logo).
So: vague, unpleasant name, connected to network now increasingly indistinguishable from any others. Win-win?
Then there’s that slogan. “Imagine greater”? Being a grammar snob, I have to read it as simply incomplete – “imagine greater [something]” – but like McDonald’s attempt to make “morning” into a verb, and whoever it was that tried the same with “office,” the main effect is a tortuous tweaking with grammar, with way too much effort apparent. (It’s even closer to the old “Think Different” Mac campaign – which, again, first appeared to molest grammar and then gave way to a dubious grammatical reconception: “different” functions here much as it does in a phrase like “think snow!”) Together with the misspelling, though, the effect is of a rather glancing acquaintance with literacy. And that’s an odd choice: while outsiders probably think of the drooling fanboys who watch science fiction, fantasy, and so forth as dopes, in reality they tend to be rather intelligent (if, ahem, sometimes less socially skilled than they could be), and anything but illiterate.
The logo itself looks like something built into the lobby of a 1970s advertising firm: the moody “lighting,” the rounded, vaguely Bauhaus-like fat sans serif type, even the off-white color scheme. I expect a receptionist with an orange bouffant and a lime green and fuchsia miniskirt to greet me at any moment.
Really, this is pretty terrible. You would think that “Sci Fi Channel” (even though, as a sort of old-school science fiction fan, I hate the cheesy “sci fi” appelation) had built up a pretty strong brand equity, and that in context, no one would be confused as to what “Sci Fi Channel” referred to – but no: good enough’s not good enough, and sticking with a known, working identity just won’t fly. I just don’t see this one working. If they’re lucky, this will be one of those short-term rebrandings no one remembers. I can’t imagine “Syfy” being taken as anything except a sort of bad joke, the word written or spoken only with contemptuous scorn.