Just Walk Away-Muzak

Word comes today that the venerable (i.e. old-timey and pretty much outmoded) background music service Muzak is being euthanized. At least its name is. The mind-numbing background music which had bowdlerized popular music into music beds acceptable for the masses for many years has a new name-Mood.

We speak often here about how a brand or trademark is a vessel into with all customer associations  -positive or negative- are poured. What comes out of witches brew of positive and negative associations is brand equity what a name stands for. There are a lot of data models and even euphemism for this, but that’s essentially what it means to be a brand.

Over time, Muzak became distinctive for background music in retail establishments, elevator and public spaces. But, along with its distinctiveness, negative associations developed. I remember, having joined the professional workforce in the 1970’s, hearing “reimaginings” (really super-pop re-orchestrations) of songs in the Beatles catalog and thinking how weird it sounded. Of course, 40 years on, everything is Autotuned, sampled and reimaginged to satisfy current tastes/standards. But Muzak, got tagged with the “weak schlock” descriptor (accurate but harsh), and never really shook that.

In the end, name recognition did not outweigh others factors and Muzak’s owners will keep the service, but cease the name.


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