EXPERT ADVICE

Mergers Should Not Create Two-Faced Corporations

As mergers take off in all directions, newly stirred corporate philosophies must be properly captured, realigned and projected through new corporate name personas to ensure the confidence of long-term investors. It is extremely difficult to run a corporation with two faces, two messages and two names.

First, we must consider how corporations and their branding teams tackle the germination of new names. The following are the three most often-used principles, frequently applied at great cost and resulting at times in even more questionable looks than they started with. The real question is not how, but why?

The Approach

  • Just Change versus Just Join. Why change? Why rock the boat? Why not join the names together?
  • Here the approach is to play both sides of the merged parties, to tell a slightly different story each day. The thought is, “Sooner or later, the world will look at us as one big happy company.” However, again, it is extremely difficult to run a corporation with two faces, two messages and two names.

    True, it’s hard at times to find even greater and better names than the original individual icons had before they merged. The difficulty in choosing a name occurs because there never was a correct naming process in place and the only hope was to randomly pick from a list of 10,000 names, compiled by some subcontractors. The prudent and astute boards of the two merged giants often have no other choice but to reject such ad-hoc selections. Combine the names, they say. End of story. As a result, the merged corporations suffer and bleed their marketing efforts in dual personalities and external image struggles.

  • Small Naming versus Big Branding. The naming isn’t as important as the branding.
  • Under this approach, forget the Laws of Corporate Naming. Pick a name out of a hat, and then big branding, or big advertising with big spending, will take care of the rest. This approach worked a long time ago but not today.

    There is no longer a surplus of money available to buy every TV spot in the country. Bottomless budgets are only Utopian dreams of branding agencies. The idea that any name blasted in the customer’s face 24/7 will surely win spells almost certain failure.

    Contrary to belief, naming is not a creative exercise, it’s a black and white process that follows the Laws of Corporate Naming. It’s a simultaneous application of highly strategic and tactical skills, demanding authoritative knowledge of global marketing, languages, perceptions, connotations, trademark laws and cyber rules of domain care. Graphic designs are critical and must follow a name over a long period — not in reverse.

  • Sobriety versus Silly Names. Creative names will win hearts.
  • Here, catchy, funny, silly names will catch the eye. They will create a very expensive, short-term hip-hop dance. The dot-com bust is clear proof that silly names at shareholders’ expense backfire big time.

Hit-and-run naming has already left a very bad taste among companies, customers and media. With hundreds of high-profile naming failures all over the world, there is now an urgent need to restore the credibility big branding agencies have lost.

It is a false rumor that all good names have been taken.

Corporations were led to believe that all the five-star-quality names were taken, and that they had no choice but to accept weird names. The same big agencies, which delivered world-class logos and great commercials, somehow seriously failed in naming. A false myth was created to cover the lack of skills, and serious naming was farmed out to skateboarding free-lancers for a “buck-a-name” service. A mere $1,000 got you 1,000 names.

Two Quick Steps: Analysis and Treatment

Most corporations have dozens of different names for print and for e-commerce as domain names, and they often clash with each other. It’s always better to have a few healthy, strong and globally protected names.

It is very easy to reevaluate, re-position and rebuild the name identity of a product or service, if you do so by using The Laws of Naming. There is a huge difference between branding and highly specialized naming expertise.

Healthy names are always fit to run the race, so they cost less to promote, and promoting them builds huge brand value. Injured names cost 10 times more, and seriously hurt marketing efforts. Names on life-support simply die, and no amount of advertising can save them.

Corporate executives must tackle this in order to cope with the new challenges of new name economy.


Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and alsoDomain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global nameidentities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, aconsultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executiveworkshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at njabc@njabc.com.


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