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Overstock.com Backpedals on O.co Rebranding

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 14, 2011 11:25 AM

Overstock.com announced in January that it was rebranding its URL to O.co as a speedier online shortcut to its wares. In June, it unveiled the new name and logo at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA (above) in time for a U2 concert, a signage change that following Overstock's six-year deal in April for naming rights to the home of NFL's Oakland Raiders and the Oakland Athletics MLB franchise.

"Our customers associate 'O' with Overstock.com, which made the transition to O.co seamless. As a Savings Engine, this is the next step in adding more visibility to our shortcut," said Overstock.com Chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne in a press release. "Naming the facility O.co Coliseum demonstrates our commitment to seeing through the execution of the new domain."

"Overstock.com is clearly at the forefront of digital marketing and their decision to use a .CO domain in such a big way, underscores their willingness to lead the market and to disrupt the status quo," commented Juan Diego Calle, CEO of .CO Internet SAS in the same release. "With the exponential growth of mobile commerce, where shaving milliseconds means gaining a strategic competitive advantage, customers around the world can now reach the company's products and services quickly and securely by simply typing O.co — the shortest possible URL in the world."

Now, however, the company is backing off from the new name because customers couldn't find its snappy new URL.

Ad Age reports that Overstock.com is back for the holidays, with the possibility of a permanent return:

The company is returning to Overstock.com on the website, in online ads, and in new TV ads for holiday. The online retailer's president, Jonathon Johnson, said it is stepping back from the O.co name "for now," though not abandoning it outright. Overstock will still use the O.co name internationally and on mobile efforts, including an iPad app that launches today. And the sign on the "O.co Coliseum," the home of the Oakland Raiders and the Oakland Athletics, will stay up. Confused? So were customers. Mr. Johnson said customers responded well to the O.co advertising, but after watching the spots, "a good portion" of those who sought out the website went to O.com, instead of O.co. (O.com is one of the off-the-market single letter domain names still held by ICANN.)

One sign that consumers had been confused by the O.co domain — in September the site acquired the O.info URL to make life easier for consumers. Company press releases for such ventures as its Club O rewards program also hint at consumer confusion by referring to "O.co (aka Overstock.com)."

DomainIncite.com comments that the O.co backpedaling doesn't help ICANN's gTLD push (read more here) for new top-level domain names:

This is obviously bad news for commercial new top-level domain applicants, many of which will be looking for all-important anchor tenants to validate their brands at launch. Marketing people like to refer to the measurable results of others before pulling the trigger on new initiatives. The O.co case is unlikely to create enthusiasm for new TLDs. On the other hand, it’s commonly believed that when it comes to breaking the .com mindset in the US, it will take more than a trickle of new TLDs such as .co. It will take a flood.

Here's how Overstock spokesperson Caitlin Keats announced the O.co rebranding in January:

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