Why Corporate Images Are on Fire

Overnight, things suddenly changed. The overexposure of a slew of corporate credibility and governance crises is thumping the global populace into sheer panic — like Richter scales gone wild — while shattering thousands of mega corporate name brands worldwide.

The good and sober companies of the world not only must weather these credibility quakes but also must project their clean image and stay protected during these monstrous global image shifts. Today, no matter how big or small the name-identity, it must follow some of the Laws of Corporate Naming to cope with the brand new challenges of corporate sobriety.

Laws of Respectability

A corporate image and its name must offer a credible personality to its customers and shareholders alike; unless a corporate name is for a circus, the customers are seeking value, and the shareholders want protection of their assets, and neither desires a monkey show.

A business name of any serious enterprise must have an alpha-character to qualify and gain respect, projecting sound personality, honesty, integrity, reliability and stability. There’s no room for randomly picked wild names like “Globe-a-Con,” “Bluetower,” “Tomorrow Inc,” “Guarantee Inc” or just plain “Omelet.”

Cute, pretentious or humorous names are out. Difficult and obscure names only confuse customers. Lookalike or soundalike names only kill marketing efforts. Twisted spellings hurt searchability. With major bankruptcies all over, innocent businesses with similar names are getting dragged down too.

The credibility of financial services has sunk to the bottom, as false claims of exotic superiority have failed to match their inexplicable performance. That’s also true of related sectors, raising doubts about everything. Gone are the so-cherished and respected images of past corporate identities — from hard-core manufacturing to incredible services. Where and when will this train stop?

During the last decade, most banks simply adopted the initials of their long, twisted names — and clearly shortchanged themselves by eliminating any distinct identity or respectable image. The analysis of the top 1,000 banks of the world is nothing but the most thick, creamy alphabet soup one can dip into. Almost all of them suddenly decided in unison to simply become initial-named banks, and now they are all just a bank, falling and crumbling under the stress tests.

If a run on a major American or British bank should ever occur, it would cause havoc for the hundreds of innocent financial institutions that are still keeping their financial affairs in clean and sober order.

Dangers of Inaction

Most corporate boards are extremely scared to open a debate on the name-image issue, but the global economic meltdown is pushing the name-identity crisis to the very top of the priority list.

A survey of major corporations around the world revealed that 87 percent of corporate names were nearly identical to other business names, causing confusion and the loss of name-equity in the marketplace. The sooner corporate leaders address this, the better.

For the genuinely honest and progressive corporations armed with realistic economic goals, there are still a lot of new opportunities to steer clear of corrupt, polluted and damaged name identities.

Seek out a professionally prepared name evaluation report to assess your national or global marketing needs. Make sure that your name is honestly projecting your strengths and can pass the acid test of trustworthiness and exclusive ownership.

A name change is always painful, but this global frenzy provides the best time to create a solid global-scale strategy. A bad name will kill a business eventually, and no amount of advertising will save it — guaranteed. A professional, impartial name evaluation report is the fastest and cheapest way to know exactly where promotional monies are being wasted and where the future of a name-identity is really headed.

Play by the rules, follow the laws, and avoid the flames.


Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on corporate image and global cyber-branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced the Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also foundedABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. He can be reached at[email protected].


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