Change Now, Change Later

By Naseem Javed June 11, 2007

Why do corporate image and Name Identities die a slow death?

Globally speaking, every hour, around the clock, seven days a week, a major corporation is forced to change its name. Sometimes it's good news, when there is new adventure in the air. But at times, and often, it's very bad news, when a corporate name becomes a liability, a burden, injured in a trademark battle. When simply it is no longer capable of ringing the cash registers. Here are seven reasons why.

ONE: Your corporate name is identical or similar to thousands of others.

When a corporate name is heavily diluted and shared by hundreds and thousands of others in all kinds of businesses, then a name is simply lost in the crowd. Also, when a name is a borrowed word from a dictionary, making it a part of everyday lingo, it never achieves any distinction and despite extraordinary expenses in advertising and promotion, it simply dies out of exhaustion. Open any old business magazine and it will unfold like a cemetery of dead corporate names.

TWO: Your Name Is Too Old To Convey Today's Dynamics.

Established as a great icon of a period, sometimes a name crawls out of history, reflecting the great human toil by the founding fathers but somehow not at all suitable for the current agile, cybernauts and the digital savvy human force of today, surrounded with emerging technologies and facing an explosive future. Corporate communication constantly struggles to shed the old image by promoting the future vision of the company and tries hard to appear young and futuristic. But, like a chronic, grumpy, old patient in a nursing home, these types of names struggle and slowly linger for decades but always fading away in the end. Any old publication will provide the proof in black and white.

THREE: The Spelling Of Your Corporate Name Requires A Higher IQ.

A large majority of corporate names are spelled creatively to fit a logo or to avoid a serious trademark problem. Here, common sense and the science of corporate nomenclature are abused at the risk of being too sexy and different. This twisted spelling only ensures obscurity. The mind continually rejects the corruption of a familiar word and refuses to remember specific alpha structures. After all, if a name can be spelled in four different ways, then you will only end up with 25% of the hits and profits. This type of creativity doesn't help. These sparks of geniuses end up kindling fires and eventually causing serious damage.

FOUR: You Spend More Money Explaining The Origin Of Your Corporate Name.

If a name cannot simply relate to the business and requires constant explanation of its obscure, yet cute, origin and how it fits overall to the business, then it becomes a daily routine for advertising to educate the universe of this dysfunctionality. The poor consumer, the lost end-user, and the over-burdened population of the world at large, doesn't really care what the name means to you, rather simply what it means to them. Corporations and ad agencies thrive on getting awards for their creative efforts and advertising gimmicks for pushing their side of the story, while the consumer simply shuts off.

FIVE: You Do Not Own A Trademark With An Identical Dot.Com.

If you do not legally own a corporate name then what's the point of the exercise? Why bother at all? Every time your name is advertised it simply helps the industry at large and your competitors. Also, you don't build any brand values and equities and your entire advertising and marketing dollar is wasted. A large majority of corporate names in business today are not globally trademarkable and most do not have identical domain.

SIX: Your Name Is Embarrassing In Certain Countries.

Globalization is a fact of life. A name must work like a marketing weapon, not only in your own country but also around the globe. There is no need to hide under the desk because the name is embarrassing or profane in a foreign language. A large majority of names today do not work efficiently on the international scene and cause an ongoing stress in gaining international recognition.

SEVEN: Name Is Too Long, Too Difficult, Too Complicated Or Too Boring.

When a name is too long it gets initialized. This unwanted process changes the entire meaning and lists the name in strange categories. When a name is too difficult, confusing or boring it becomes a different animal to different people. Strange name combinations, due to M&A, end up telling more than one story and causes confusion in the market place. Weird terminologies, alphanumeric structures, using upper or lower cases, dashes or slashes and other dingbat characters in a name will only ensure self-destruction.

If you already have a world class, unique, powerful, globally trademarkable name which is highly related to your specific business and it also has an identical Congratulations--you can stop here. No need to go further. It's Champagne time. If not, you should seriously consider changing it fast, the sooner the better. Just remember, no amount of money spent will be able to save the name in the long run.

Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo, Catch a Name by the Toe

Never, never, pick a name out of a hat. It's a bad thing. If your naming challenge is simply based on a hit or miss process, then you are definitely not going forward. Remember, picking out of a hat can also happen more than once. One, when you and your staff pool up a large list of names and pick one out of sheer desperation. Two, when you ask an ad agency or a, so-called, world-class identity firm, who also internally with their staff, or externally with creative freelancers, go through an identical exercise, which ends up picking a name from a very large hat. Normally, the day before the press conference. Are you still holding an old magazine? The proof of embarrassing name announcements covers most centerfold ads.

Myths, Facts and Rules

?We are out of names? is only a myth successfully established by advertising and logo shops. Thus leaving the clients with strange, weird, and often silly, names. Contrary to belief, there is no shortage of unique, powerful, one-of-a-kind, trademarkable, corporate names. What is short is successful, proven methodologies and highly reputable professionals with successful track records. So therefore, what you need is a professionally executed, naming strategy, guided by a Masters of Naming Architect. Ask your agency if they can produce such a professional with a track record, otherwise they are only picking names out of a hat. Naming is a serious black and white exercise and it should never be confused with color, design, logos and branding campaigns, which only become important after a name has been selected under the guidance of a naming architect.

Corporate Image & Trustworthiness

How to re-gain customers and shareholders confidence

Corporate image-makers and brand agencies have only hurt themselves by ignoring the correct methodologies required for proper naming. Agencies asking sub-contractors to hire free-lancers to do their brainstorming and run focus groups. Exercises to pool 5000 names over five months for few millions to come up with a PHOOFFS are finished. Extreme exercises with executives locked up in a boardroom, in the dark, each with a flashlight, making letter signs to form words while the other half tried to decipher, now lost in the darkness along with their OINGA, BOINGA names.

If this is the end of logo design then what's the future for Corporate Identity Services? Yet, this offers a great leadership opportunity for providing well-executed name identity, under the guidance of ?Masters of Naming Architects?. After all, there never was a shortage of great names just lack of expertise and wisdom.

Seven Remedies* from The Brand New Laws of Corporate & Name Identity Image:

1. Respect: A name must have an alpha-character to qualify and gain respect. Face of honesty, integrity, reliability and credibility. No room for 'PurpleFrog, ' 'PinkRhino, ' 'Globe-a-Con, ' or 'Tomorrow Inc.' Sobriety must prevail because corporate names are not beer commercials.

2. ONE Face, ONE Name: Stand up with a happy, healthy face. Don't try too many masks and transmit multiple personalities. This can seriously blur the image. Advertising is wasted in harnessing a common mind share. Is the name selling Accounting or Space Navigation, Computers or Distilled Water? Honest names are truly honest about what they do.

3. Current Status: If you think you're on top of the world, then show it with your name. Old-fashioned names will not attract customer's attention to your ongoing evolutions. Glories of the past often lose their value with the changing times. Face cyber-branding realities of tomorrow's global e-commerce.

4. Become A Star: Have a star quality in your brand name. Its alpha-structure should be bright, clear and shiny. Don't educate the universe on how to spell, pronounce or remember a weird spelling or obscure origin of a blunt klutzy name. No need to be a matchstick when it can be a flashlight.

5. Freedom To Travel: Spread your wings and fly away. Wander country to country with your name-Identity and explore global opportunities. No room for difficulties of global translations, connotations, secondary meanings, foreign obscenities, pronunciations and all other language issues. Today, marketing is ONLY global, BURN all the other books that say otherwise. Think locally, but name universally.

6. Pride & Joy: Be a leader. Set an example. Take pride. Introduce it globally with full confidence. Why the embarrassment? It's not stolen, or is it? Watch competitors struggle with confusion, dysfunctionalities and embarrassing naming stories. Shine where others hide.

7. Rightful Ownership: If you own a corporation, why not its name? Today, 93% of corporations do not own a global trademark with an identical domain name. This is the easiest thing to do. Shortages of global names are only myths successfully established by design firms. Fix it immediately as there is no winning without a global trademark with an identical DotCom.

At this moment, there is a much bigger war of branding image going on out there. Corporations are fighting for global positioning while shareholders are frightened by the fake hoopla. For those genuine, honest and progressive corporations of the real economy armed with realistic goals; there are still a lot of opportunities to stay clear of these corrupt, polluted and damaged name identities. Seek out professional naming solutions to your marketing needs making sure that your names are on solid ground and can pass the Acid Test of Trustworthiness.

Categories: Go-to-Market
Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power is recognized as a world authority on Global Name Identities, Image, Cyber-Branding and Domain Issues. He introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80's and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. Naseem also conducts executive workshops and conferences on global image and name identities issues

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