WW: What Went Wrong?

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Published on September 27, 2018, at 6:50 p.m.
by Anna Jones.

Weight Watchers is taking, perhaps, one of the most difficult steps to alter people’s perception of its brand: changing its name.

On Monday, Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman announced the company’s decision to change its name to WW with the new tagline “Wellness that Works.” This rebrand supports WW’s shift in focus from weight loss to the importance of the customer’s overall health and wellness.

“Today we become WW. We’re committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet. Now we’re putting our decades of knowledge & expertise in behavioral science to work for a greater mission: going beyond weight to wellness for everybody,” Grossman said in a tweet.

Although it’s only been a few days since the announcement, this rebrand is receiving mixed reviews, specifically when it comes to the use of two Ws as its name. According to a PRWeek poll, about 31 percent of respondents believe this was a good decision. The remaining 69 percent believe the new name is complicated and confusing.

I agree with the 69 percent of people who feel this change is complicated and confusing. When a company’s name no longer reflects the focus of its business or is limiting the business, like Weight Watchers, it might be time to consider renaming the brand. However, this process should not be taken lightly.

Here are three things to keep in mind when renaming a brand.

Start with your brand.
Your business name should be an extension of your brand. Consider what your brand does, what it stands for and what sets it apart from similar services. When determining a new name, keep in mind the company’s mission statement, vision statement and core values. Your name should reflect every aspect of your identity and set it apart from other organizations.

By renaming Weight Watchers to WW, the business no longer reflects the brand’s identity. Yes, it separates the brand from its focus on losing weight, but two letters do not provide enough information on the services WW provides or the emphasis it places on health and wellness. Along with not providing enough information on the brand, this name does not set WW apart from other brands, such as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). By not differentiating itself, WW could find itself overlooked in the future.

Determine the story behind the name.
According to an article from Forbes, “A new name gives you a big story to tell and a reason for people to pay attention — but you need to be ready to tell it.” Having a story behind your brand’s name humanizes the brand. It allows an emotional connection to develop between your business and its publics. It’s what sets you apart from competitors. Consider how you want the brand to be known and reflect that in the name.

WW does not really tell the story behind the brand. Grossman told BBC   that WW does not stand for Weight Watchers or Wellness that Works, but that it is simply a marque. WW is trying to grow its brand and expand upon its current customer demographic, but in order to do this, the story behind its name needs more clarity.

Keep the name simple and short.
There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than when a brand name is long and confusing. A difficult name can be hard to remember, and customers may decide not to use it and continue using the old name. Customers prefer familiar words that they are comfortable trying to pronounce, so this is an important thing to keep in mind when renaming your brand.

By changing its name to WW, a three-syllable name now turns into a six-syllable tongue twister. Saying “double u double u” out loud is much more complicated than saying Weight Watchers out loud. Many people have already expressed their confusion with the name on Twitter.

Overall, one of the main things to remember is to not rebrand unless it is absolutely necessary. This is a time-consuming and expensive process, so it’s important that the rebrand is vital to the success of your company. It is crucial to stay true to your brand’s story, values and publics. By keeping these three things in mind, you can avoid having an identity crisis like WW.

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