Smith & Wesson Changes Its Name

“American Outdoor Brands…and me” doesn’t quite do it

Smith & Wesson Model 29
Smith & Wesson Model 29.Manufacturer Image

Remember when “branding” referred to the searing of livestock with an identifying mark? If you do, you’re a dinosaur who should stop reading this right now and do something useful, such as making sure you have enough Depends to get through the holidays.

Branding means something else entirely now, and because of it the name Smith & Wesson is dead. Henceforth, the company will be known as American Outdoor Brands Corp.

Now there’s a name that sticks in the mind. Imagine Clint Eastwood, in the famous diner scene from Dirty Harry IV, confronting the robbers, who ask just who is going to prevent them from doing their day’s work. In the movie, the answer is, “Well, Smith and Wesson…and me.” And somehow “American Outdoor Brands…and me” doesn’t quite do it.

The 164-year-old company’s president and CEO, James Debney, had this to say:

“We are excited about the results of today’s stockholder vote. We believe that American Outdoor Brands Corp. is a name that truly represents our broad and growing array of brands and businesses in the shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiast markets.”

The problem, according to people who study such things, is that Smith & Wesson had become too closely associated with firearms, while the company needs to diversify its “portfolio” and focus on “brands and products that best meet the needs and lifestyle of our target consumers.”

Actually, the guns will still bear the Smith & Wesson name. And I get it. Companies have to grow or die. Growth often means diversification. But I guess a Smith by any other name is still a Smith. What do you think?