Snapchat (Snap Inc.?) has had a busy September. First off they have been seeing wild success with their photo sharing app, with over 100 million people using the app every day. Secondly they announced two huge changes to their company. The company formerly known as Snapchat is now called Snap Inc., although crucially the photo-sharing app will still be known as Snapchat. They have also announced that they will be entering the world of wearable technology with Spectacles.
Snapchat has been seeing an explosion in popularity over the last few years, and it has now reached a critical point. If they want to continue to see the same success year upon year that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are enjoying, then they need to step up their game. Yes, the self-destructing, photo sharing app has become a household name, particularly in the world of millennials, but Instagram’s new stories feature clearly demonstrates that Snapchat’s position may be precarious.
While Snapchat might have been a game changer when it introduced interactive lenses – causing dog ears and long tongues to crop up on every celebrity face, they have set themselves a precedent as a company that pulls fun, quirky innovations out of a hat. Geofilters that are able to be customised for your personal or business requirements were next up. You are now able to create location specific filters for a certain length of time that give attendees to your event a reason to get snapping and creating memories overlaid with cool and personalised graphics.
The double announcement of Spectacles and a company name change is a lot for Snapchat fans to take in all at once, so let’s break it down. The Spectacles will be sunglasses capable of recording 10 seconds of footage that will upload straight to the Snapchat stories feature. This is one step further into the age of wearable technology that is fast approaching, and it also signifies a shift in the expansion of Snapchat, the company. Snap Inc. pride themselves on their ability to allow users to ‘create memories’ – having a device that allows you to record video from your own point of view without using your hands is a real step-up because it feels far more natural and magical than the way that we are now used to. GoPro is a hugely successful competitor company, but Snap Inc.’s spectacles will have none of the extreme sports feel about them. They simply want normal people to be able to relive the best parts of their day and share it with others, with as little visible intervention from technology as possible.
Following their release of a short promotional video about Spectacles, Snapchat announced that they would be changing their name to Snap Inc., in order to allow for branching out into other products, rather than limiting themselves to one app. They have gone to lengths to ensure that their core consumers don’t reject the company name change and the CEO himself has assured everyone that the company will still be the fun, friendly brand that it has always been.
Often a name change for a company can be met with anger and revolt from fans who dislike any attempt to fix something that isn’t broken. Just look at Anderson Consulting’s infamous switch to Accenture, a move that cost the company $100 million to do, and which earned them Time’s judgement that it was ‘one of the worst rebrandings in corporate history.’ Snap Inc., on the other hand, has managed to change its name in a relatively calm and considered way that has attracted almost no bad PR.
Their strategy for achieving a smooth transition from Snapchat to Snap Inc. had a lot to do with their delivery of the news. They initially released a teaser video of their new product, the Spectacles. This surprising announcement was met with excitement and interest. A new wearable by everyone’s favourite social photo-sharing app? A cool design and an affordable price tag? Snap Inc.’s core audience were instantly hooked, and a few hours later Snap Inc. announced their company name change and stated that it was a logical decision that tied in with their movement towards new ventures (like the new Spectacles). As the internet lit up with posts about the Spectacles, comparing them to Google Glass and other wearable technology, everybody let the company name change go unquestioned.
One reason for the muted response might well be because the change is largely inoffensive. ‘Snap Inc.’ is still very close to ‘Snapchat’ (perhaps so close we will all still end up calling it Snapchat?) and most importantly the actual name of the Snapchat app remains the same. The announcement was made in classic Snapchat style, with reassurances from the CEO and a wealth of marketing pushing towards encouraging consumers to look forward to their new releases.
More than anything Snapchat has been able to create intrigue and excitement around their name change because of what it is likely to mean for their future as a ‘camera company’. Spectacles was the first step, and now we must only wait for the next innovation that Snap Inc. intends to pull out of their hat.