Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Define Your Name

Just what's in a name? Is your name a help or hindrance? Would you change your name if it didn't fit anymore?

Let's look at some real life examples:

Kentucky Fried Chicken. A namesake that defined a brand, a taste and all was good for years, until, the word Fried became poticically incorrect. Then they became KFC. But that didn't fool anyone. It was still Fried Chicken. Only recently did they change to a healthier cooking oil, while trying to preserve the famous taste. Call it KFC, or call it Kentucky Fried Chicken and either way we know what to expect.

Starbucks. Here's a coffee house that used brand extension principles to the extreme and lost their heart and soul. It really wasn't that Starbucks sold their goods in grocery stores, but that they stopped doing what they do best. Consistent high priced coffee drinks served in a special environment.

About a year ago, me and my wife traveled to Ohio for a weekend getaway and one of the requirements was a good cup of coffee. The small town we were in didn't have a coffee shop so we hit the road and went to the next big town. We finally found a Starbucks located in the middle of the produce section of the supermarket. Two small round tables, and 4 chairs, in between the apples, carrots, and grapes. This was amusing but not the Starbucks experience.

ROCK 104. This is a radio station I work for. And it is "Not just a radio station, but a way of life". 27 years old except for about 4 years when the station was sold and the new owners went from Rock 'n' Roll to Soft Rock. I'm glad I wasn't working there when they flipped from The Cars to Celine Dion!

But when we brought ROCK 104 back, it was bigger than life, a bigger success than it ever was in the previous 20 years. The name ROCK 104 stood for something, and we've worked hard to be true to that.

Do you know what AT & T stands for? Or IBM? These abbreviations of the original name have helped these companies stick around. If they insisted on using their full names, they'd be history.

What about redefining a common word? Apple did it, but I would not recommend it. Way too expensive.

How about creating a new name? I did with ScLoHo. And you can too if you have a good explanation for the name you create. (ScLoHo is the first two letters of my first, middle, and last name). My wife now calls me Scloho, my son has adopted JoHo as an alternate name, and the trend may continue.

We name our kids before we know anything about them. When you are picking a name for your business or a product or service that you are going to offer, you get to define your name based on what it, (company/product/service) will be.

Combine fun, thoughtfulness, and an eye for the future when you pick your name.

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