Why Plus Is a Minus When Naming Your Streaming Website

First there was e.

Then I came.

Now it’s +.

With the proliferation of streaming platforms, the plus sign has become a general purpose marker signaling endless hours of on-demand shows.

Plus sign streaming services include ESPN + (since 2018), Apple TV + (2019), Disney + (2019), BET + (2019), AMC + (2020), and Discovery + (2021). Streaming peaked on Wednesday with ViacomCBS renaming CBS All Access. The company decided to call it Paramount +.

Pinning the plus sign to the name of a well-known movie studio can be a very effective way to let customers know that the platform has movies and something special. Or it could be “a disaster,” said Mike Carr, co-founder of the NameStormers brand.

“The Plus is a great idea in the short term and a terrible idea in the long term,” said Carr, who helped find names for thousands of customers, including CarMax, the used car company, and Angry Orchard, the Hard cider label.

“It’s cool and hip now,” continued Carr, “but you can’t own or define an umbrella term like” plus “because all of your competitors out there are doing the same thing.”

The use of the plus sign dates back to at least 1984, when the French television channel Canal + made its debut. Google was part of the trend from 2011 to 2019 with its social network Google+.

She used the Hulu streaming platform in 2010 when she launched the Hulu Plus subscription service. In 2015, the company subtracted the plus and the name became simply Hulu. “We had a great time with our old friend Plus,” Hulu said as he announced the change, “but it’s time to move on.”

The plus trend came after the craze for names from the dotcom era – eBay, Esurance and Eharmony – that used the “e” for electronic devices as a symbol for online leisure and shopping. Apple made the lowercase “i” popular, followed by iGoogle, iHeartMedia and iZotope. The commercial and flourished thanks to a number of fashion labels such as Me & You, Me & Ro, Stella & Haas and Stella & Dot.

The plus sign has become a common theme in the streaming industry that movie star and entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds ridiculed the trend in a commercial for his wireless operator Mint Mobile. His spoof advertised Mint Mobile Plus, a fictional streaming service.

Multiple Professional Brand Names – The naming industry exploded from a handful of specialty stores to thousands of outfits in the 1980s – said that using “plus” could stunt growth. Mr Carr pointed out financial institutions struggling to differentiate between new credit card offerings and having to resort to assigning colors like silver, gold, platinum, and black.

“I can’t tell how many times I’ve seen this – there’s always a next generation, version 3.0 or 4.0,” said Carr. “So is it going to be Paramount Plus Plus? Paramount Plus Plus Plus? “

Last year, new streaming services like NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform and AT & T’s HBO Max were able to resist the fad. But with so many others relying on the symbol, early adopters “are probably a little irritated that everyone copied it,” said Julie Doughty, who heads the Naming & Verbal Identity practice at Landor & Fitch.

Now the plus sign may become the abbreviation for the streaming itself. “In the same way, the pound sign became the hashtag,” Ms. Doughty said.

Name company executives said ViacomCBS and Disney most likely went through months of debates and focus groups, as well as brand and foreign language exams, before approving the plus sign brands.

“It’s not that ‘Plus’ is the best name,” said Steve Manning, founder of the Igor Naming Agency. “It’s the one who survives because everything else is gutted. For a large audience, this is the least objectionable choice. “

Mr. Manning, whose company was turning Court TV into truTV, compared the task of choosing a name to the committee choosing a pizza.

“Someone will be lactose intolerant, someone will not eat meat,” he said. “You’ll be in luck if you can eat more than a gluten-free cheese crust on a good day.”

Alexandra Watkins, whose brand company Eat My Words developed Smitten for a California ice cream store and Neato for a robotic vacuum cleaner, said she tried to avoid names “that look like someone got drunk and played Scrabble.” She admitted to once selling a customer under a name that contained “plus” – and was surprised to make $ 30,000 for it.

With so many streaming companies adopting the icon, she said ViacomCBS “completely missed an opportunity” by naming its platform Paramount + instead of opting for something more imaginative.

“Plus is the lowest common denominator,” she said. “It’s lazy and the easy way out.”

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