Friday 11 April 2014

What’s in a Name? There is only one Hull City/Tigers* (*delete as appropriate)

My mum almost called me Hamish..  I have my big sister to thank for not letting that happen and I can be mildly content with my overtly-popular 70/80’s first-name.  Everyone pretty much has a name whether they like it or not.  Same as every company has a name and subsequent image/reputation that the name conjures up.  Again, some companies like it and some don’t.

The incessant desire to be the coolest and follow the Apple / twitter / facebook / latest-thing trend means that some companies re-brand what seems like every 5 minutes.  Admittedly not all of them change their actual company name in the process but internally, departments get a re-name, new teams get formed and christened with the latest three-letter acronym and those who have been in the company for a while have forgotten what or who does what and sit miserably over their cup of coffee wishing for the good old days when the Purchasing department was called exactly that!  The main news this week I think you will all agree was around Hull City owner Assem Allam desire to rename the club to Hull Tigers because Hull City sounds lousy and common.  It’s taken them 110 years to decide this?  Now they did go down the route of asking the fans what they thought which I think is an absolutely crucial step in any name change but rather than a simple Yes or No to the name change, he sneakily tied it in to him continuing to fund the club!  Guess what the result was?  Yup, just over 50% voted in favour. 

Not all companies get this re-brand or rename right..  some notable failures that I can think of was the good old Royal Mail.  A brand older than some countries (1516 apparently) and created by Henry VIII still thought it a good idea to re-brand with a new name for the millennium.  The name Consignia (does anyone remember this?) lasted about a year before the public, workers and trade unions forced a re-think and back to good old Royal Mail they went.  However, this isn’t just a phenomenon in the UK.  Anyone remember an Airline company called Allegis – or to give its new/old name – United Airlines?

Companies have many reasons for changing their name and brand.   Many choose to do it to get away from a negative image.  Accenture fits into this although I don’t think they actually meant it.  They renamed from Andersen Consulting just before the Enron Accounting scandal trashed any reputation Andersen consulting had – a definite blessing in disguise.  Others do it to try and boost or recover market share – usually because they have just lost said market share!  RIM have officially changed their name to Blackberry.  Out of the frying pan and into the fire on this one?

Some name changes have clearly worked out well but the biggest company names and brands in the UK and worldwide have tended to build that name over the course of time.  They are unlikely to change their name and will continue to cultivate the name to mean something unique in their market sector as times and trends change.  What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes it’s ok to be called Purchasing or Procurement if people know what that stands for.  It’s about you and your team’s offering more than feeling your name needs an upgrade!

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