CREATING SUCCESSFUL NAMES FOR
THE BUSINESS WORLD
by Naseem Joved Linkbridge
Publishing, Toronto, ON, 1993
Book Reviewed by
William Shakespeare said: 'What's in a name? That
which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'
Shakespeare had it wrong. Dead wrong. Read Naming
For Power - Creating Successful Names for the Business World, by
Naseem Javed, and you will find out why.
Javed is a name guru. For about 15 years he has
been helping corporations create names that sell. His philosophy, in a
"Names are like weapons: Marketing weapons, which
have one main function: To come to the mind of a buyer at the time of a
purchasing decision. Otherwise, why bother naming at all? You can
simply use a number: Company 829 selling Product Number 311 plus."
And like weapons, names are fully capable of
shooting their owners in the foot- especially in the global economy.
Javed tells how CM belatedly-discovered that its
'Nova' was simply not moving well in Spanish-speaking markets. "Maybe
if they had hired more Hispanics in their marketing division, they
would have known that 'No-Va' means 'no go' to any four-year-old child
in Spain. Mexico- or New York City and Los Angeles, for that matter."
He also gets great pleasure out of telling us that
the much-loved 'Body by Fisher' of CM fame ended up being translated
overseas as 'Corpse of Fisher,' and that Ford renamed its 'Meteor'
model 'Caliente' for South America, without taking the trouble of
asking anyone living on that continent whether the term had any
dangerous connotation there. Sure enough, 'Caliente' turned out to be
slang for "hooker' for tens of millions of potential buyers in South
America. "An interesting evening, perhaps," observes Javed, "but not
the kind of car you wish to buy for your wife, husband, son or
So how does one avoid all of these pitfalls and
end up with a power name.
Javed's advice is to avoid focus groups, eschew contests, beware of
suggestions from in-house management, and. yes, you guessed it. hire a
name guru like you-know-who.
To be fair, the pages are loaded with good advice
for avoiding problems and selecting high-powered names, for those who
do not have access to professional assistance. He sets out a four-phase
process for name management that encompasses name development,
suitability of the name to positioning in the marketplace,
availability, and protection from marauders.
The pages are also loaded with helpful examples,
including some of special interest for Canadians. My favourite is his
account of a press conference where he was asked about the wisdom of
naming the new domed stadium, then being built in Toronto, after a
prominent politician. Javed reminded the reporters of the dumping of a
number of Canadian political leaders by the public, soon after they had
been held in great respect and popularity. "Imagine if a stadium had
been named after them." he warned.
Javed was also interviewed extensively on how
Canadian brand names might fare with the friendly neighbour to the
south. He opined that far too many Canadian corporations carried
geographic names such as 'Canadian.' 'Northern.' and 'Arctic.-' which
suggested limitations. "Indeed, names with 'north,' 'northern.'
'Arctic.' and even the impressive-sounding 'Canada' could alienate
American consumers, suggesting coldness and frigidity." unless the
products arc related to a wintry theme.
Naming for Power is a good,
easy read. It's short and entertaining, and should help both those
seeking to put power into names and those who may be required to write
about this interesting process.
—Harold Levy writes on 'The
Courts and the
Law' for the Toronto Star.
Published in Sources, Summer 1994
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