Microsoft attempts to end brand confusion and fails miserably

Since our post earlier in the week concerning Microsoft's plans for its MSN portal, many bloggers have been discussing the brand confusion that Microsoft's new online plans are causing. It seems as though Microsoft's PR department has taken note, as today we have noticed two new articles that attempt to address this issue. Unfortunately for Microsoft, things have just gone from bad to worse.

First we have an AP article that features the headline "Microsoft rebrands MSN to focus on content" that also includes an interview with "John Nicol, the executive recently put in charge of MSN." At the same time, Elizabeth Montalbano from IDG news publishes an article claiming the exact opposite, "MSN won't rebrand itself." According to Microsoft spokeswoman Kathy Gill, "there will be investments going forward so it feels like a media network, but it will still be MSN"

Confused? We are too. Neither article disputes that fact that internally MSN is now being referred to as the MSN Media Network, Kathy Gill actually confirms this name is being used. However despite Microsoft's insistence that there are "no formal plans to rebrand the site," this name has has already been published externally. The description of the new MSN InfoPane gadget for Live.com has since been edited to remove all references to the MSN Media Network, however you can view a screenshot of the original page here and MSN's own cache of it here.

One thing to note, in my original post I deliberately refrained from using the word "rebrand." I did not mean to imply this was a consumer rebranding like Windows Live, more of a corporate separation from the Live services. That said, the rebranding discussion is proving interesting :-) Read more in our update.