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Why Corporate Images Die a Slow Death?

By: Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on Corporate Image and Global Cyber-Branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80s and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago.

When sleek world class corporate images go up in flames like ENRON, WorldCom, GlobalCrossing, and start looking badly charred like ENWRONG, WorldCon, DoubleCrossing or when names become obvious liabilities like, Consignia,Thus,Thales, Xansa, or Uniq.... then it’s time to call the gate-keepers of Corporate Identity on a red carpet.

Andersenization of corporations started when voodoo accounting met voodoo branding and a hundred million dollar corporate image road show became a standard. Start with, a splashy logo, a great color scheme, pick any name along the way and roll out a Corporate Identity show. Steal money from shareholders, but give them a decent Corporate Image, at least, in return. CEO’s forged ahead making their marks, the likes of Zorro! Only this time, it was zero, really Zero. While ENRON, led the way, with the only tilted logo in the industry, clearly pointing the slippery, southbound slope, shareholders gasped and waited.

Within the last few months alone, PWC Consulting, did a self-destructive branding number to become Monday. A dumb name of the period. During this 60 million dollars makeover and while still in a shock gets picked up by IBM for a merely 3.5 billion. The name Monday is dropped immediately. Only a year ago, PWC did reject a 12 Billion dollars offer by Hewlett Packard.

Deloitte, spends 40 millions to become Braxton , a name they picked up from the past so that the future can be their judge. KPMG also kicks in 40 million to be re-named to BearingPoint. Their challenge is now to unite 16,000 bright consultants under this difficult term on the global scene before they reach their breaking point. When two complicated ideas like 'bearing' and 'point' are combined they will only become initialized as BP, because it’s only the fickle and lazy public at large which decides what to think of a name and what to call it and no amount of money will ever change their mind… In the meanwhile, the real BP, which is British Petroleum, is trying very hard to shed the ‘British only’ image by re-inventing as BP as in "Beyond Petroleum" one of their short-lived campaigns. We are not amused. BearingPoint’s symbol is not BP rather it’s BE. Pity. Lastly, Anderson, before their demise also spent 160 million on Accenture, a name suggested by their employee. So be nice to your employees who knows one day they may end up naming your corporate destiny.

This fancy colorful makeover of the worlds top four consulting companies, plus a 300 million budget for four new names, has certainly guaranteed them a chapter in the branding history. While the ad agencies collect their design awards the army of consultants get ready to fight for their corporate identity.

The new laws of Corporate Image clearly points to the failure of the traditional Corporate Identity practice, whereby, logo, design and specific color schemes were everything and the name, only one of the, under the new laws, names are everything while the other paraphernalia is certainly lost in the crowd. A name is what a corporation needs, to talk about, remember, type, chat, refer, call, praise or curse. While the logos, designs and colors you forget and do not call for, in these cyber driven economies they have lost their value...Today everyone is forced to TYPE…better remember the name and better remember the spelling…better like it or click on to the next one. Welcome to the global e-commerce.

One hour on the net and you go through enough logos, artworks and design which is equal to the entire work by all the logo shops in the whole world created during the last century…as business gets more complex, search ability of a name becomes ever so critical on the global e-commerce… under the new laws of corporate image, its all in the name stupid.

Here are 7 steps to measure the life of a Corporate Image………………

One: Name is lost in the crowd for being similar or identical to thousands of others. Names borrowed from a dictionary, part of an everyday lingo, never achieves distinction and despite extraordinary expenses it will simply die out of exhaustion.

Two: Name is too old fashioned to convey today’s dynamics.

Three: When the spelling of a name requires a higher IQ. Weird spellings are used to avoid trademark problems or to fit the creativity of a spinning logo. This only ensures obscurity. Spell four different ways, and it will only bring 25% of the hits or profits.

Four: More money is spent in explaining the origin of the name. Why advertise to educate the universe of this name dysfunctionality. Customers only care about their perceptions they don’t care about your cute story.

Five: Corporation does not own a trademark or an identical domain name. Why bother?

Six: Name is embarrassing in certain countries.

Seven: Name is too long, too difficult, too confusing, too complicated or simply, too boring. Using lower cases, dashes or slashes and other dingbat characters in a name, will only ensure its self-destruction.

So, are we are out of names? Hell no. This is only a myth, successfully established by ad agencies and logo shops, leaving the clients with often-silly names. Naming is a serious black and white exercise and should not be confused with color design, logos, and holistic branding campaigns, because today these components have a very limited value. Naming is naming, which is when a name has been selected under the proven and established guidance of a master naming architect.

Voodoo accounting is hurting us all; voodoo branding is hurting agencies. Now is the time to get really serious about corporate names.

© copyright Naseem Javed, 2003

Other Articles by Naseem Javed

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