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Why The Beatles Singing iTunes…..?

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.

Apple fights have started all over again. Steve Job's start-up of Apple Computers in 1977 did ruffled Apple Corp. of The Beatles, a record label which they had established two decades earlier.  After years of expensive legal fights and after Apple Computer paying some big damages an agreement was reached to co-exist in 1991. Now the Apple Computer’s creation of iTune, a music dispensing online service using Apple name and logo has rekindled the fires. Juices are flowing, once again. Apple Corp wants the courts to decide, once again.

Apple Corp could have easily ignored the first fight, there was no need to link their Apple music label with computers and even though they did get the satisfaction of some victory the fact apple still remains a dictionary word in public domain and is used by hundreds of companies all over the world. Dictionary words are always a problem. In a rare case, Apple name in computers did acquire a ‘secondary meaning’ whereby it has become a well-understood brand by masses all over the world. Today, it is more famous than Apple Corp.

However, linking of the music for these two Apples is almost like going for the pies. On the ringside, here is the latest. iTune of Apple will have to cope with a lot of other similar sounding names, like, Itune, I-tune, Itunes, Ituner, Ituners all over and most of these websites humming some tune in the music industry.

Trade Mark Lawyer’s often get the bad wrap for unnecessary fights but than these battles are only created by the naïve executives who ignore the rules of naming in the first place and go for a seat of the pants name ideas and fly it in a panic often hours before the press-conference. A recent study showed that 97% names are selected on the exact day of the announcement, hours before the press conference. How about them apples.

Big branding has recently taken some big beating, mostly for the abuse and poor campaigns pushing silly names and to convince customers that those names were too cute to forget. Mega-failures of such projects have corporations to re-configure their branding trees of naming architectures. Serious naming is slowing getting respectability pushing lala-land branding out.

Marketers need to know if their Names are Healthy and fit to run and win the race or if they are Injured, slowing down the relay or if they are on a Life-Support and will never win. It is very easy to determine this by using the tests and these tests also clear the way for the management to come to a black & white realization of the prime name problems leading to proper solutions.

Can Apple computers go into music business without upsetting The Beatles will be decided by the courts and most probably in favor of Beatles, the other big question is can Apple build a separate arm length Master Brand in Music without any association with this fruit of wisdom. Have a bite.

© copyright Naseem Javed, 2003

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