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September 24, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins of Company Naming Changes

We at Strategic Name Development introduce to you the Seven Deadly Sins of Company Naming Changes, inspired by our proprietary Company Naming Changes research. We've covered major trends and pulled out the Greatest Hits, and we'd like to wrap up this undertaking with a few words of advice for what not to do.

Pride is excessive belief in one's ideas about what the company should be named to the exclusion of all common sense and all commoners. The 2002 British Postal Service's prideful name change to Consignia was met with a considerable amount of prejudice.

Envy is the desire for the status, popularity, or profitability that other brand names currently command. The most obvious manifestation of envy is name copying.

ApricotAppleThink Apricot Computers, who apparently couldn't resist eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (which is ironically often represented by an apple tree).

Gluttony is the desire for the name to consume more than that which it requires. This often happens when a company changes its name to reflect a broader offering, but then goes too far and swallows more than it can possibly chew.

Take Cingular Wireless gulping down AT&T Wireless in October 2004, bringing the company under the Cingular name. Then in March 2006 AT&T (owned 60% of Cingular at the time) wanted a piece and ate BellSouth (owned 40% of Cingular at the time) for full control of Cingular. In May 2006 the new AT&T made plans to ditch the Cingular Wireless name in place of the original AT&T Wireless name by 2007. For a visual of this brand digestion cycle, check out Steven Colbert's spoof.

Lust is an inordinate craving for the love of a name at all costs. Lust is being seduced by and falling in love with a new company name before knowing if it's legally available. Lust often leads to brand adultery - or in the case of Phillip Morris, brand "Adultria."

Anger is manifested in the company name who spurns the positive and opts instead for violence, fear and fury.

French Connection rebranded their fashion clothing to "fcuk" in 1997 to capitalize on this concept, plucking the shorthand from faxes between French Connection Hong Kong (FCHK) and French Connection United Kingdom (FCUK). The new name, bearing striking resemblance to "the F-word," resulted in an 81% increase in profits in 1997... Not to mention a flourish of complaints and press coverage.

Greed is the excessive desire for material wealth or power that goes along with a name. Greed means he who has the most money gets his name on the bottle. In the case of GlaxoSmithKline, Wellcome was no longer welcome.

Sloth is the disinclination to do your linguistic homework before introducing a name. One company decided on its new moniker, Enteron, before bothering to check the meaning in Webster's dictionary: intestine or alimentary canal.

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Posted by William Lozito at September 24, 2007 9:44 AM
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