Overstock.com Is O.co Loco

It's no longer all about the "O" at Overstock.com (NAS: OSTK) .

The online retailer specializing in overstocks, closeouts, and other clearance bin fodder is taking a step back from its aggressive O.co rebranding.

Months of marketing campaigns, changing the name of its sporting coliseum in Oakland, and actively pushing its O.co domain as a shortcut to Overstock.com isn't working as well as the e-tailer would like. There are way too many people that confuse O.co with O.com -- which hasn't been made available, even to Oprah Winfrey -- and it's also not easy to rebrand a company.

Overstock.com president Jonathan Johnson is telling Advertising Age that the tactical retreat may be temporary, but the timing is suspect. The Web-based retailer just released an O.co iPad app yesterday. Johnson explains that the O.co push will continue internationally and in mobile, though it's probably not a coincidence that it's retreating domestically a week before the start of the holiday shopping season. If customers are showing any kind of resistance to the abridged moniker, there's no point in messing around when there's real money to be made in the coming weeks.

There's no reason why O.co shouldn't have panned out. Generic names -- like Overstock.com -- aren't necessary in cyberspace. In fact, they often present branding challenges.

Consider the more successful Internet storefronts. Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) didn't seem like a logical name for a bookseller in the mid-1990s. Blue Nile (NAS: NILE) has mastered high-end jewelry. These two companies took on Buy.com and Ice.com -- rivals with short and to the point domains. Done right, a good brand is better than a great name.

Say it ain't O, Overstock.com.

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