Microsoft intends to re-brand MSN as 'MSN Media Network'.I think there is quite a bit of brand confusion here.
The name 'MSN Media Network' seems a little odd to me. Microsoft has re-branded a lot of other things with the "Live" banner, so I'd imagine something like 'Live Media Network' (LMN) would make more sense.
Perhaps I'm underestimating the value of the MSN brand.
With Microsoft slapping the Live label on everything and its mother and promoting the Windows Live brand as the future of Microsoft's web effort, I'm not sure what happens to the existing MSN properties and well-established MSN brand.
Will MSN Search become Windows Live Search? Will MSN.com redirect to Live.com? If not, will Microsoft try to maintain two brands, Windows Live and MSN? Where is the dividing line? What is the difference? Will users understand that difference?
Back in December 2005, I rashly predicted that "Microsoft will abandon Windows Live." After a bit of a ruckus about that, I elaborated by saying that there is "too much confusion between live.com and msn.com" and that "the MSN brand is too valuable to be diluted with an expensive effort to build up a new Windows Live brand."
Perhaps I am overestimating the value of the MSN brand. Perhaps, at the end of the day, it will be Windows Live that is left standing.
Either way, there can be only one. Few outside of the digerati know about Windows Live right now but, when Microsoft tries to promote this to the mainstream, the brand confusion is going to be severe. Something will have to be done.
Update: Richard MacManus posts a nice followup article, "Microsoft's brand confusion - MSN or Live?"
Update: Another followup from Richard MacManus, "Microsoft admits brand confusion between MSN and Live".