What’s In a Name?

Bad Marketing Idea No. 237

Earlier this month the well known e-commerce site Buy.com officially changed its name. The new name is about as forgettable as, well… as the old name is memorable.

Buy.comThe short and sweet simple moniker has been replaced with “Rakuten Shopping.” No, I’m serious. They’re eventually ditching the domain and all branding which they claim “unifies its brand internationally.”

Buy.com has been around since 1998 and sold $111 million of goods in its first year. A record for first-year sales at the time. Originally selling only electronics and computers, the site is based on a marketplace approach- in other words they hold no inventory. Instead they represent thousands of sellers offering over 17 million products.

Rakuten is a Japanese company that is also a big player in this e-commerce enabler game. In 2010 they bought Buy.com for approximately $250 million and announced plans to rebrand it last January.

In my opinion the name change is a tremendous faux pas- one that rivals New Coke enormity. Consider that Rakuten sounds a lot like racket- which isn’t exactly a favorable business term in English. Ditching such a simple and easy-to-remember name like Buy.com for something so, well… foreign- just seems like a huge mistake.


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