When I lecture or consult on branding, one of the issues I like to discuss is the name of your organization or project. I’ve seen cases where colleges dramatically increased enrollment, products revitalized, companies turned around – even movies re-released, all because of a name change.
Certainly there are a multitude of issues involved, and name changes don’t solve everything – especially when there are deeply rooted, systemic challenges. But your name is the first thing people see. Long before they hear your story or understand your benefits, they discover your name. And in a media-driven, A.D.D. culture they will often make the decision to hear your message – or not – simply based on the power of your name.
The computer world is a good example. Dell offers 5 different notebook computers: Inspiron, XPS, Precisions, Latitude, and Vostro. Some of the names are interesting, but none really tie into each other with any type of relationship. Sony is worse yet. They’re notebooks are: TZ, SZ, CR, FZ, NR, and AR. Boy, that’s exciting. A writer recently said they sound more like former Soviet states.
On the Apple side, their laptops used to be Powerbooks, and more recently MacBook, and MacBook Pro. Even their desktop models are Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro. All have a continuity and relationship – plus have more meaning.
When I started my company, Cooke Media Group, I had already been in the business for about 15 years and had solid relationships. So I named the company after me, so I could take advantage of many years of trust and friendships I had built up over that time. And it proved to be a smart move because people knew instantly who the company was and the principles for which we stood.
But I’ve since discovered that when you hire “Cooke Media Group” you expect a “Cooke” to show up. So I’ve been beating myself to a pulp traveling hundreds of thousands of miles a year meeting with clients, even though other members of my team are just as good (if not better) than me. So I’m looking at a name change that would accomplish a couple of things:
1) Indicate our wider range of expertise, including branding, and digital media.
2) Take the emphasis off of me personally.
Companies like Walt Disney Studios grew out of that phase, so I’m hesitant to drop the “Cooke” name altogether. But I’m open to ideas.
Any suggestions out there?