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Why Corporate Images Die a Slow Death
by Naseem Javed

 
   
 
   

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 dollar 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 dollar offer by Hewlett Packard.

Deloitte, spends 40 million 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 employees. So be nice to your employees who know one day they may end up naming your corporate destiny.

This fancy colorful makeover of the world's top four consulting companies, plus a 300 million budget for four new names, has certainly guaranteed them a chapter in 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 point 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 components. Today, under the new laws, names are everything while 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 global e-commerce.

One hour on the net and you go through enough logos, artworks and design equal to the entire work of 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. 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

  1. Name is lost in the crowd for being similar or identical to thousands of others. Names borrowed from a dictionary, or part of everyday lingo, never achieve distinction and despite extraordinary expense they will simply die out of exhaustion.

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

  3. 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 it four different ways, and it will only bring 25% of the hits or profits.

  4. 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.

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

  6. Name is embarrassing in certain countries.

  7. 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 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 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 serious about corporate names.


     
   
     
   

The Author

Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is recognized as a world authority on image positioning and global naming complexities. He is currently helping corporations on ICANN’s new gTLD cyber-platforms and lecturing about new nomenclature frontiers and global cyber-branding.
Contact: Naseem Javed | nj@njabc.com . Visit www.abcnamebank.com .

Toronto - New York - Dubai

       
   
 
       
   
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Copyright 2003 by Naseem Javed. All rights reserved.

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