With everyone waiting on the October 6th to see the unveiling of the new A-La-Carte radios, Best Of programming, and some flavor on what Sirius XM radio will look like, there may be a bit of a surprise. The distinct branding of Sirius and XM will still exist. This was expected to some extent because the company promised to keep legacy systems alive, and those systems are tied to one service or the other.

Having seen the new Starmate 5 A-La-Carte radio and packaging, as well as the new XMP3 radio and packaging, it is quite apparent that the look to consumers will be two separate brands. The Sirius and XM packaging indicate little to a consumer that the companies have merged, and this could cause a bit of confusion at the retail level. Hopefully the company will work closely with retailers to avoid consumer confusion on exactly which base service each radio comes with.

The issue seems to be the strategy in the OEM channel as well, with branding still prevalent in car dealerships. Having visited many dealerships in the past couple of weeks in my quest to buy a new car, I saw no indication from a consumer perspective that there was a merger. One has to hope that because the OEM channel is the driving force that the company will make efforts to let customers know at the dealership level as well as during the activation process that BEST OF is an available option for consumers.

Whether the two distinct brand strategy is long term is not yet known, but given the timing of the merger, it likely makes sense at least in the near term to avoid confusion. The key is letting consumers know there are additional services and choices available.

Position - Long SIRI