Why ViacomCBS is renaming itself Paramount

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ViacomCBS increasingly attempted to connect the company’s brand message with its mountain. From Bakish’s remarks about “the company on the rise” to the “Mountain of Entertainment” marketing campaign that has been circulating for Paramount+ since last year’s Super Bowl, branding attempts based on the snowy star of the Paramount brand are not lacking. -crowned summit. Even the company’s recent press releases are full of mountaineering puns and winking corporate language; think “reach new heights”, or “dramatically increase” or “cutting edge content”.

A lasting icon

Founded as Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1914, the company and its mountain logo have survived more than 100 years of wars, mergers, acquisitions and splits. It has been part of the ViacomCBS family for nearly 30 years, when a new version of the studio and its parent company, Paramount Communications, was purchased by Viacom in 1994.

The Paramount brand has existed since as a subsidiary in one form or another until its long-standing brand identity prevails this week. Over the past two years, since Viacom and CBS came together under a hybrid name and corporate structure, there has been a concerted effort to push the Paramount name into certain facets of its broader operations.

“In terms of naming scenarios, renaming a company that already has an existing name and doing it when you’re not in the middle of M&A activity is pretty rare,” said Lea Chu, group director of naming at Siegel+. Gale, an Omnicom-owned brand and design consultancy.

“You would need a very good reason to do this, you wouldn’t just do it on a whim. And I guess it must be related to their streaming service, Paramount+,” she said.

Last year, the company’s subscriber-supported streaming platform, CBS All Access, was rebranded as Paramount+ in a bid to harness the “iconic and legendary brand” that is “synonymous of quality, integrity and world-class storytelling,” Bakish said in a statement at the time of the rebrand.

The move came as the company formerly known as ViacomCBS invested heavily in its streaming presence, which also includes BET+ and Showtime services; and it’s a bet that, a year later, seems to be paying off.

During the same Tuesday afternoon investor presentation in which Bakish and Shari Redstone, non-executive chairman of the board, announced the company’s name change, it was revealed that Paramount+ had completed last year with 32.8 million paid subscribers, of which 7 million signed up in the last three months of 2021 alone. This provides a significant boost to Paramount Global’s vast streaming business, as it competes with other high-impact SVOD services such as Netflix and Disney+.

Company-wide, Paramount plans to reach 100 million subscribers by 2024, Bakish said during the presentation.

By dropping the old name of CBS All Access and then establishing corresponding names for the new version of Paramount+ and its parent company, Paramount could have an easier time rolling out its flagship streaming service internationally where the logo of the mountain of the studio is better known than the eye of CBS. , suggested Chu. “The world is really important to them,” she said.

Paramount+ is already available across Canada, Australia, Mexico and much of Central and South America, with ambitious plans to expand in 2022: launches in the European Union, Russia, India and Southeast Asian countries are all scheduled this year.

Paramount Global vs. Paramount Global

“I think they’re leveraging capital for something that people have a strong affinity for,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at New York-based brand agency MBLM. According to him, despite the “awkward” addition of a plus symbol to its main streaming service – a bandwagon that Disney+, CNN+ and others have all jumped on – the company has been wise to capitalize on his Paramount connections.

“Remember, these visuals are the first things you would see in ‘ancient times,’ or ‘before time,'” he joked of the movie studio visuals that almost always precede a movie: Paramount’s Star Mountain, MGM’s Roaring Lion, Columbia Pictures’ Torchbearer. “Signing these marks had incredible recall and power.”

Rather than raising consumer awareness, however, Natarelli thinks the biggest hurdle facing the ViacomCBS name change may be legal.

“The legal challenge around naming, it’s a minefield of legal considerations and challenges,” he said, suggesting Paramount “has probably already done the math that there will already be challenges.” .

But for Paramount Global (the Hollywood media giant), the existence of Paramount Global (the supply chain company that has been in business since 1976) does not seem to be a problem. While the latter owns the domain name “ParamountGlobal.com”, the conglomerate formerly known as ViacomCBS already operates online under “Paramount.com”, and has made it clear that it will carry the short name Paramount for most of time. .

“When you see these short, very obvious names being used for mega-brands, I think, ‘how the hell do lawyers do that?’ says Natarelli. Paramount’s new corporate identity has some precedents, such as a history of using the Paramount name and being in a totally different field than its packaging industry look-alike, which would constitute probably strong defenses in court, he continued.

But as history has shown, just because a company comes up with a name first doesn’t mean a bigger company with an army of expensive lawyers won’t take away the brand or search dominance. Google. Just ask Meta, the Arizona-based PC vendor.

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