Are we overthinking the naming issue?

This week, one of our business unit executive directors came to me in a quandary.

The Secret Marketer

We work for a global brand, and a new name has been devised for one of our international business units. The problem was, my colleague explained, that the acronym of the new name could lead to some mirth for English speakers.

I thought hard about this but came to the conclusion that while this could happen, the reality is that few people care about the name itself; it is more the equity we build in that division for excellent customer service and outstanding financial performance that really counts.

My feelings were reinforced as I reflected on the Carphone Warehouse/Dixons merger that was announced last week, and how odd some of those names that we know so well, really are. Yet they trip off the tongue without us spending a single thought on it.

When was the last time you bought a car phone? And while some of its stores are large, I am not sure I would call them warehouses. And the word ‘Currys’ hardly brings ‘electrical warehousing’ to mind. As for PC World, in an age of tablets and smartphones, I am not sure many youngsters would know what a ‘PC’ is these days. Even TalkTalk (the other part of Charles Dunstone’s empire) is a slight misnomer, now that only a fraction of the traffic it handles is actually voice traffic.

The naming issue also came up for one of the smaller businesses that I provide a guiding hand to in my spare time. As that business has evolved, the name it initially chose has come to bear little resemblance to what it actually does. A name change would no doubt help with some conversations with potential customers (“ah, so that’s what you do”), but this is a business that has built a huge amount of equity in that name. As a result, any decision to depart from it must be taken carefully – not least in that as a service business, its brand is one of its most important assets.

But are we worrying unnecessarily? After all, I’m about to go off to Selfridges to buy a new fridge-freezer.

For more on Carphone Warehouse/ Dixons, see Mark Ritson

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