XOHM branding thoughts


I wonder if there's real, studied, empirical reasoning behind all the branding that telcos do with their various services, or whether it's just a sign of corporations needing something to do with all those people in the marketing department. Sprint seems to love sub-branding every random technology it uses, though what tech they're actually using is usually a mystery to me as I'm not a Sprint customer. For example, my best guess is that Sprint PCS, Sprint Vision (SM), Sprint Power Vision (SM) indicate various types of CDMA speeds (and nothing to do with teleconferencing as the name would suggest), and PCS Mail, Sprint Picture Mail (SM), PCS Short Mail are names for email, MMS and SMS respectively, though the last one I'm not exactly sure about... it could be something different. And then there's Sprint Music Store (SM), Sprint TV (SM) and Direct Talk (SM) as well. Reading their website pretty much requires you to visually ignore all Service Mark logos to understand anything.

And now they've branded their WiMax service as XOHM. It's got it's own logo and an interesting, albeit unpronounceable, non-acronym acronymized name. Okay, fine. You can examine the branding on its own merits, but my question is: Does this really make a difference? Does the cost of developing another brand justify itself for Sprint in terms of revenue? Will people really be beating a path to Sprint looking for only XOHM related products, ignoring the rest of what is supposedly an open standard? Or is XOHM a sign of lock-down? Will XOHM products and services only work with Sprint's version of WiMax?

The word WiMax itself has enough name recognition that they actually use it to explain the brand in the logo itself: "XOHM: WiMax by Sprint". They don't do that with their CDMA tech, because presumably your average man on the street doesn't know an EVDO from a dodo. But WiMax seems friendly... just like the WiFi they use at Starbucks, but you know, "to the max". Maybe since WiMax has little to do with WiFi, Sprint feels that rebranding the technology will save them support trouble? That's my only guess.

Someone, somewhere deep in the bowels of Sprint must understand the actual reasoning behind the new sub-brand, right? I really wonder if the people with marketing degrees actually can predict the cost/benefit ratio associated with a new initiative like this, or whether they're just winging it. Maybe branding is like advertising in that, "50% of the brands work, we just don't know which 50%..."


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