It’s New Year’s Eve. The music and dancing has completely stopped. In silence strange things appear, fancy dressed harlequins and charlatans running around taking cover in confusion; the population at large is already at the gates, screaming slogans, demanding Honesty and Integrity while the Typing Revolution charges on with thunder…. klika-ta-klick, klika-ta-klick,. . What happened? How did we arrive here?
by Naseem Javed
First, let’s go to the dance party:
Corporations, dressed up like Charlatans and Harlequins, have done enough dancing; shareholders are no longer fooled by fancy images, fake identities with silly names, making fun of their investments. Everyone demands honesty from every aspect of the business empire. It’s all about trustworthiness.
In January 2003, ABC Namebank International completed a global survey. A list of 5000 major international corporations was compiled and each corporate name was analyzed for its marketing power, image, ownership and trustworthiness in four categories.
Suitability: how truly a name describes itself and the nature of it’s business.
When names are totally irrelevant to the business, they often mislead or confuse shareholders and consumers alike. This large group of corporate names is an interesting mixture of mumbo-jumbo, strange name identities, projecting weird, non-related, connotations, confusing and conflicting with the actual business itself. These types of names often appear to be intentionally deceptive about the size, quality or marketing reach of the corporation. Dressed up like Harlequins or sometimes as Charlatans with fancy logos, spinning circles, bright color schemes with shooting stars they only create fear and doubt among already burned investors. 83% names failed this acid test of name suitability.
Personality: how a name stands out among other competitors with honesty.
When names are borderline silly, nonsensical, overly creative, too trendy, projecting a short life expectancy, they scare everyone. This group of accidental names only makes fun of shareholders’ money. Business can sometimes be all fun but corporate image making is a very serious business. 47% failed.
Registrability: how the corporation globally owns a name with its identical DotCom.
When names are tangled in trademark litigation worldwide they only become a liability and an expensive burden to the corporation, bleeding marketing and advertising dollars. Companies in this group each have hundreds or, at times, thousands of similar and identical names in the global marketplace. E-commerce, with all its vengeance, only crushes these names on search engines. Customers and shareholders can hardly find the right company at the right time. 85% failed
Respectability: how a name matches its real image with actual goals and results.
When image is credible and matches the projected goals, shareholders feel comfortable and consumers trust the corporation. This small group of shining stars have one of a kind, unique, powerful, global name identity and image. The name clearly identifies with their goals and what they do. This creates respectability and clearly provides them with ongoing trustworthiness. 93% failed
The research classified the corporate name identity of the global multi-nationals in the following four categories:
Deceptive Corporate images appearing to intentionally confuse shareholders. Names projecting false marketing goals or financial capabilities. “Global Monopoly Inc”; “MarchFirst Inc.”; “e-Corporation”; “Global Crossing”; “WorldCom”, “MCom”.
Ghosts: Images originating from the early part of the last century, or prior, projecting futuristic image. Re-invented logos under antiquated names confuse the marketplace. “e-Steel”; “St. Peter’s Online Bank”; “Devine E-Commerce”. “e Eaton”
Ghosts: Images originating from the early part of the last century, or prior, projecting futuristic image. Re-invented logos under antiquated names confuse the marketplace. “e-Steel”; “St. Peter’s Online Bank”; “Devine E-Commerce”. “e Eaton”Alphabetti Soup: Names that simply drown in the soup, making it impossible to decipher the nature of its business, tricking the marketplace. “XPGHRT INC”; “FUGTI”; “AIGTNA”; “BOOBOO INC”; “3 INC”. “HIH”
Stars: One of a kind, unique, powerful, globally protected, with an identical DotCom. This group represents 7% of the 5000 tested. “SONY”; “TELUS”; “MICROSOFT”; “PLAYSTATION”; “FOUR SEASONS HOTEL”. Malpractice of “Corporate Identity” created this accidental naming.
Further compounded when voodoo accounting met voodoo branding. A silly name with a hundred million dollar rollout campaign became the standard. Package designers abandoned the noble profession of corporate naming to other big dollar maneuvers, becoming experts in corporate governance, IPOs, and other strange areas, in the name of branding. Voodoo that is.
Secondly, what about the Typing Revolution?
Right now, we are heavily engaged in a war of global e-commerce where everyone is forced to type absolutely correctly. Particularly a businessname. whitehouse.gov takes you to Lincoln’s bedroom, while dotcom will take you to Lolita’s. So, type in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, in cars, elevators, bedrooms, restrooms, boardrooms, dining tables, picnic tables and sometimes all day in the office too. The same fingers that did all the walking on the Yellow Pages have now learned tap dancing. klika-ta-klick, klika-ta-klick. . . Ole!
- There were similar major revolutions during the entire last century. Namely,
- “Print Society” – forced reading and literacy.
- “Radio Society” – listening, dialogue and music.
- “Telephone Society” – conversation, spiel, telemarketing.
- “TV Society” – better sofas, centrality of the living room, visual knowledge.
- “Computer Society” – organization and planning.
- “Telecom Society” – globalization and surfing.
- “Cyber-Society” – decentralization, intellectual-anarchy.
- “Broadcast Society” Be prepared, it’s next, fueled by Anchoring and Broadcasting from everybasement in the globe. Make-up, lights, camera, action. Hello, CNN.
Today it’s all about searchability controlled by spelling and cognitive associations. Listings have gone through the roof: A two-inch directory of the past is now a two-mile thick book. Masses with their strained memorability are frustrated with typing twisted names with strange dashes and slashes while evolution of brain is simply stuck slightly ahead of Jurassic Park. The brain has no incentive to work hard.
Positioning of a name for maximum impact in global e-commerce is the new game. One hour on the Net takes you through enough artwork created during the entire last century by all the logo shops of the world combined. No one really cares about logos. Name is what everyone talks about, remembers, types, chats about, refers to, calls, praises or curses. Think of Yahoo. Can you recall their logos or colors? How about E-Trade, Amazon or Kazaa? There are hundreds of other businesses that you are already typing in daily, simply by name.
The Morning After The Party:
Forget the hangover, 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 focus groups are over. 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 along with their OINGA, BOINGA names.
If this is the end of logo design then what’s the future for Corporate Identity Services? Corporate image-makers have only hurt themselves by ignoring proper naming. 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.
Next: Seven Remedies from The Brand New Laws of Corporate Image
- Naseem Javed is founder of ABC Namebank International, a world-renowned authority on corporate nomenclature, and author of two major books, he can be contacted via email.
Posted in the category: Strategy