What’s in a name?

The simple answer is “Everything!”

In the early 1980s, Al Riess and Jack Trout wrote a great book, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” They devoted a whole chapter to the importance of a name. It is amazing how many high-paid professional marketers can’t seem to grasp this idea. I recently ran across two national and one local example that make me cringe.

gatoradeThe Gatorade folks have had the advantage of one of the strongest brand names around. It is so strong that it has developed a generic use. People will talk about Gatorade, even they are drinking Powerade of some other sports drink. Athletes talk about “Gatorading” a coach, meaning to dump a barrel of Gatorade on his head after a big win. Gatorade coachThe name is golden. So what is the latest brilliant marketing move by that company? They have rebranded their drink to “G.” Genius! Pass the Powerade; would you please?

Another company is not changing its product name, but it’s messing with it, which is almost as bad. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a well established brand. It is so strong that it can also get away with using its initials, “KFC,” which is something not many companies can do.KFC Everyone knows Kentucky Fried Chicken, what it stands for and what to expect. The latest move by the KFC folks is to introduce grilled chicken to their menu. OK, no problem. That’s probably a good idea. Their mistake is marketing it as “Kentucky GRILLED Chicken.” Bad idea. Introduce a new product. Sure. But don’t screw with your brand name. The KFC folks (Or is it KGC?) may establish their grilled chicken as a successful addition to their product line, but they will do so at the expense of their brand identity. When you diminish the strength of the Kentucky FRIED Chicken brand in the minds of the consumer, you become just another chicken restaurant, not the King of the Cluckers.

On a much smaller scale, I see a local business making the same kind of mistake. The company is Furniture Warehouse. The name “warehouse” carries certain image. They probably have a large showroom, with an equally large volume and variety of inventory. Recently I have heard some radio ads that they are changing their name to “Furniture Warehouse Design Gallery.”

The first problem is that the terms “warehouse” and “design gallery” convey entirely different mental images.  The first says, large space and giant inventory. The other conveys the image of a small boutique store.

However to compound the problem even further, after changing their name, they decided that 10-syllable name was too long and awkward, so they should go by their initials. Bad move! The name carries an image, or rather two of them. “FWDG” carries nothing. Their solution? Launch an advertising campaign to explain what their initials stand for.

Here is a thought. If you need to pay for an advertising campaign to explain what your name means, maybe you need to rethink the name

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One response to “What’s in a name?

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review | Another Beautiful Day in Paradise!

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