February 15, 2007
Naming is Framing
Guy Kawasaki just wrote a blog post about “framing”: the way word choice affects our perceptions of the thing the words describe. He uses music-sharing as an example: is it “piracy,” or is it “a music-listener’s revolt” against an oppressive industry?
This is a clear example of the power of names and the importance of choosing the right name—as the commenter who asks whether “framing” isn’t just a fancy term for “spin” points out.
Kawasaki himself keeps reframing his blog by renaming it. It started out as “Let the Good Times Roll,” a play on his name (and a possible trademark infringement, but let’s not get into that). That was a name that implied fun, rather than a serious approach to the topics he covered. When he decided to use the Latin version of that name, “Bona Tempora Volvantur,” the effect was somewhat more highbrow. But would anyone looking for Kawasaki’s thoughts on business search for it? Not likely.
The next name, “Signum Sine Tinnitu,” Latin for “signal without noise,” created a better frame—for those who knew what it meant. Kawasaki explained the meaning in a post at the time he made the change, but was still stuck with a name most readers wouldn’t understand, never mind search for.
As of this writing, the blog is called “How to Change the World: A Practical Blog for Impractical People.” It’s a good name. It has drama. It’s in English. It makes you want to know more. Moreover, it’s the likely title of Kawasaki’s next book, so it has marketing value beyond the blog itself.
But the name which matters most with regard to this blog is still “Guy Kawasaki.”
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