Overstock.com’s Identity Crisis

Overstock.com led an aggressive marketing campaign earlier this year of its O.co rebranding, but the new name did not catch on with its consumer base. Then came the about-face: O.co became Overstock.com again this month. 

Overstock.com president Jonathan Johnson told Advertising Age that while the O.co advertising was received well, “a good portion” of people mistakenly went to O.com instead of O.co. (O.com is held by ICANN.) Additionally, consumers were still referring to the company as Overstock.com, even after advertising was well under way. "We're still focused on getting to O.co, just at a slower pace...We're not flipping back, we're just refocusing,” he told Ad Age.

The company did not release an official announcement about the reversion to the old name. Instead, Overstock.com seems to be moving ahead with a quiet transition, with O.co still appearing throughout the company Web site. This hedging of its bets does send one sort of clear message: "We don't know who we are exactly."

While the company may be "refocusing" its branding, it still needs to be clear about the differentiation of Overstock.com as a company and O.co as, for now, just a shortcut URL. On Nov. 14, one tweet on Overstock.com's Twitter feed read, “@Overstock - I’m a little confused. Are you changing your brand name to O or just the url to o.co?” Overstock.com tweeted back, “O.co is a URL we purchased as a shortcut to our site but we are still known as Overstock.com.”

This tweet leaves out much more than it says. After all, O.co is not just a shortcut to the company site; it was once the name of the company itself. Overstock’s recognition of its unsuccessful rebranding effort and its subsequent fix aligns well with the desires of its customers, but the company has not taken the next step of delivering a clear, thoughtful message to these very same customers.



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