||by Naseem Javed
A corporate name or a brand, at best, is an outcry from the deep
bottom of the corporation in search of attention and in pursuit
of fame and glory. Whether you read a name in a column, see it
in the phone book, hear it on the radio, or come across it on
the web, it is always on a desperate mission to seek attention.
Go to a
search engine and you will see one name after the other screaming
and yelling, each one wants to be on top of each other. All
want to be as clear and as loud as possible. Some have high
pitch and some with flat boring humming noise . . . a humming
noise, which only our subconscious mind can hear. When you look
at the word Banana you do hear a soft enunciation of the word
in your sub-conscious, this is sometimes a voice print left
from the past encounters with the name, its sound or maybe the
object itself, and if you ever slipped on a peel, then of course,
other screaming thoughts may also conjure up. This type of branding
experience is often attached to most dictionary words in our
talk about verbal branding or how a corporate names travel mouth-to-mouth,
from one corner of the city to the whole nation, infesting the
entire globe . . . really! Today this is achieved in one afternoon.
A press release in the morning, a chat on CNN in the afternoon,
e-commerce campaign for the rest of the day and voila! The name
is the talk of the town from Rio to Paris and from New York
to Shanghai. How long this fame will last depends on how many
will remember it in the long run.
of names being registered each day as Domain Names and other
things, it is very noisy out there . . . almost a deaf tone
. . . While naming of the new economy awaits its thunder, there
are still other problems.
When a name
is used in business it must be unique, powerful, proprietary,
related to the business, exciting and able to arouse curiosity
and equally pleasing to the mind. Therefore, it is not wise
to have a twisted spelling and hard to pronounce names or some
wild ideas that the subconscious mind simply refuses to accept.
'RockCloud', 'PurpleRhino', or 'Kukamanga'
(meaning 'Great Corporation' in Ugabooga dialect of the Roman
Empire.) Do you really care? Hell no, the mind simply shuts
down and lets the name scream while drowning.
A name should
simply pop up at the time of a purchase decision otherwise it
is absolutely useless if it wanders through and comes out of
the mental fog a day after the purchase. This is how sales are
missed. When a name is unique, the brain recognizes it as such,
Sony, Panasonic, Telus, Celestica, and files it away
nicely, while recognizing it's unique position among the other
daily mumbo jumbo. When it is generic, like United or
General, then the garbage kicks in verbal branding and it
can become a verbal diarrhea. United Systems, United Payroll,
United Services or General Insurance, General Distribution
or General Production and so on. A common day usage term,
such as a dictionary word, has the least recall and the same
applies to numbers, the mind does not remember numbers, slashes,
dashes, dingbats and symbols etc. Studies have shown again and
again that only unique, one of a kind, clear and powerful names,
survive and become legends.
a corporate name is normally a single word. Two word names are
problematic, three words are more complicated. Four words? -
why not kill the business first? Also, if there are dozens of
others using the same name in dozens of different types of businesses,
then your name is only shouting and the voice is being lost
in the crowd.
the acid test, enter your name in quotes on Google search engine
and if it comes up with one hundred other companies using the
same name, then you might as well fold up your advertising dollars,
it's only being wasted. Therefore, you better seek a professional
solution. If you find that there are more than one thousand
other companies having an identical name, then it will explain
the doom and gloom at your HQ, the shortages of funds, the lack
of traffic to your sites etc. Remember a good name makes a cash
is why a name of a corporation is the single most important
issue of corporate communications today. But still, to this
day, a domain name, the twin of a corporate name, to most CEOs,
is the most misunderstood term of corporate communications.
A domain naming issue is often left to webmasters, ISPs and,
sometimes, to lawyers. It has yet to earn the respect as the
single most important issue of e-Commerce and a real password
for global success.
Naming is seriously under-priced, the current dogfights between
registrars and the hopeless name branding of the Dot.Coms, by
corporate identity firms and Ad Agencies, have only confused
the corporations and brought embarrassing branding campaigns
thousand such projects failed in the last year, from Kozmo
to Gazoontite and Boo.com to MarchFirst.
This last name, incidentally, had nothing to do with the month
of the Julian calendar and the business did not start on March
1st, rather February 17. Of course, AprilFirst was taken
by some other fool. But, somehow, most people just couldn't
hear the steps and see them march . . . marching into the brick
wall that is. The big bang expensive branding failed and MarchFirst
went into bankruptcy. A name can be very revengeful, when it
is meant to play or trick the mind.
naming for e-commerce is very fragmented and every corporation
is trying to cope with little or no guidance. When a name fails
to deliver a clear and distinct message, then the human mind
simply ignores it and a relentless pursuit of bizarre branding
ideas will never save it. Now to check on the health of a name
here are some key reasons and if not corrected, a sick name
will endlessly shout and eventually die.
MISS: This is when a name sometimes hits the target or misses
it entirely. Potential customers end up going to the competition
in error, because the name looks like and sounds like dozens
of others. Or it is so restricted in its access by having twisted
spelling, making it impossible to find it on the web, directory,
search engines, etc. So why create mass confusion, and let mail
come with new and different spellings of the same name every
day. e.g. enonymous.com dead, by starting
the name with an 'e' rather than an 'a', they guaranteed their
anonymity and died; geotele.com dead, is it geotel?
The 'e' may have cost them their survival; 2way.com,
too many ways to spell the name; fastv.com dead,
fas-tv? or fast-v?; csonet.com dead, twisted spellings!
STROKES: When a name means one thing to one group and an
entirely different to others and customers. This can seriously
blur the image of a corporation and a great deal of advertising
is wasted in harnessing the marketplace. e.g. mcsleep.com
dead, is this supposed to be confused with McDonald's,
or not?; thinktankworldwide.com dead, what the
hell is this?; headstrong, an e-commerce company or headache
pills, but why?; concrete, once again an e-commerce company
with cement? Too much confusion; B2E, what the hell is
B2E? We are still trying to figure out BtoB and BtoC!
CRISIS: When a good old name doesn't tell the customer anything
at all of its evolution, new ventures, and new ideas. e.g. accipiter.com,
figure it out!; mesomorphosis.com dead, no wonder;
CIT and what is this?; efdex.com dead,
it's neither Purolator nor FedEx; zixit.com, what for?;
revenio.com, no, its not revenue just an expense; peek-a-booicu.com
dead, are they a religious organization or a bunch
of perverts?; eBreviate, twisted spelling; i2,
too many ways to spell and no clear message.
THE UNIVERSE: When you start advertising and telling people
how to spell your name, remember it, it's cute meaning and some
strange origin, say it differently because it has a different
pronunciation etc. Rather than promoting business you are educating
the population on how they should behave when it comes to using
your name. This method never works. Gekko v/s Gyco;
Atto v/s Auto; Xerox v/s The Digital
Document Company; Clarity v/s Clarica. e.g.
equipp.com dead, extra 'p' puts too much burden;
bellzinc.com, is it telephone or a metal company?; eWanted.com,
by whom and why?; eOnline is this advanced thinking,
CRISIS: When there are serious translation difficulties,
or the name is obscene in foreign countries. e.g. phocuswright.com,
what an intelligent way of spelling; clickmango.com dead,
don't say this in Thailand; justp.com dead, are
you sure, only pee?
CRISIS: If you don't own a trademark or you don't own a
solid domain name and sometimes neither, this is the most ridiculous
situation to be in. All your money is being wasted to promote
your competition. e.g. snowball.com, living.com dead,
thirsty.com dead, go.com dead; eve.com dead,
ONYX, eLink, Rational.
Executives are embarrassed presenting business cards and to
have to explain the name confusion, and competition starts making
fun of the names. .e.g. ebolavirus.com dead, how
contagious; wetnose.com dead, no thanks, I don't
need your business card!; wwwrrr.com dead, aren't
you glad they're gone?
jumping from the pan into the fire, follow the three golden
rules: Do not copy other famous or trendy names. Do not get
too wild and too creative and do register for the Global Markets.
If you need help, only a professional, with many years of solid
experience, with dozens of successful naming projects, can help
you and do not try out your name with ad agencies or design
firms, they rely on casual freelance naming which can be the
most dangerous thing, when a creative person, without a full-time
commitment, spins out 1000 names for $1000, the going rate in
most agencies; you end up with a name on which your corporate
destiny, and a large ad budget, is left hanging by a thread.
Shout as loud as you can, a poor name eventually dies and no
amount of branding tricks can save it.
can only be achieved by following the naming rules. Understanding
of strategic perspective on global naming to fits e-commerce,
rules of corporate nomenclatures, alpha-structures, alpha-dynamics,
marketing issues, global translation and languages, modeling
and hierarchy of naming, overall naming ideas, naming registrations
and maintenance and so many other things to fully tackle a naming
comes in all shapes and sizes, vertical to horizontal, internal
to external and mental to spiritual, but when it comes to naming
it is entirely a very different issue. Naming is something like
magic and branding is something like witchcraft. If you have
a magical name then with some witchcraft you really capture
the attention and mesmerize the audience. If not, then you are
left with some odd-shod tricks and no sizzle. Because naming
is a black and white process and you should not be confused
with design and packaging, or other branding exercises.
syndicated columnist, author of Naming for Power,
Founder of ABC Namebank International, world-renowned lecturer
and an expert on corporate naming issues. Naseem is a committed
follower of sobriety in corporate communication strategies and
critic of the "beer commercial" mentality on corporate
naming and the
influence of voodoo branding on our culture. A hilarious speaker,
he has a deadly message on why Corporate Image USA is on fire.