Archive for the ‘Naming’ Category

When a nickname becomes the name

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So you’ve been in business for quite some time now and you’ve got an avid fan base of customers. So much so that you’ve been given a nickname. It is very endearing to be given a nickname from a group that you associate with. You have become more than just a friend to this group. You are in their inner circle of trusted friends. You are now affectionately known and referred to by this nickname.

But, when does the nickname become your identity that it takes over you name. When you meet someone who knows you but you do not know them and they refer to you by your nickname, only then does your nickname become your name. Only then can you begin to consider a name change. Only then can you introduce yourself to others by your nickname.

Recently, two companies moved to be known by their nickname – The Shack and The Hut. Legally, neither company changed their corporate name. And Pizza Hut has since backed off from implementing the name change.  Radio Shack, a.k.a. The Shack, however, prefers to be referred to by their nickname now.

The Shack

The Shack

When a company succumbs to a name change given by their most loyal customers, they are forcing their coolness onto their entire customer base. I have shopped at both companies, but neither company has endeared me enough to give them a nickname. To me they will be known as Radio Shack and Pizza Hut.

The Hut

The Hut

The better solution, for which I think Pizza Hut learned, is to endear yourself to the close group of friends that gave you the nickname in the first place.  Give them a special place in your business just for them. These are your brand ambassadors.These are the customers that will move your other customers into your inner circle. Continue to give them the reasons to promote your nickname.

Besides, nicknames only really mean something to your inner circle of friends. Noone outside your inner circle will understand the meaning.  The nickname won’t stand for anything. You will have to earn the trust all over again that you made with your given name.

Radio Shack thinks they can make the transition with their tagline: Our friends call us The Shack. Change your name to The Shack and you lose me as a customer. You are no longer in my top-of-mind. I guess I’m not your friend.


Name your company…a price?

Monday, December 22, 2008


Naming a product or even your company can be a daunting task. What I am astonished by is when price becomes the name. When you name your company with a price, you eliminate your ability to add future value to your customer and worse yet, the ability to raise prices.

Inevitably you will have to increase your price to stay profitable. After months or even years of establishing your brand–which is based on a price–among your loyal customers, a change in the price of your product will cause confusion.

Take, for example this message that came across our paging system the other day. “5 Buck Pizza is here. Come to the front desk and pay seven dollars to get your 5 Buck Pizza.” We all had a chuckle at how that sounded. But from a marketers perspective, what a challenge that now poses.

5 Buck Pizza is small regional pizza chain in the Intermountain West. But larger companies are not immune to taking this strategy. Take Arby’s 5 for $5 that had been promoted which is now transformed into 5 for $5.95. While it is a different promotion/product offering altogether, the message to the consumer of 5 for some dollar amount has now changed. I suspect it will change in the future.

There are other guidelines you should follow when naming your company or product. And avoiding price is one of those key guidelines. For a review of other guidelines and discussions, these links may be helpful.

Strategic Name development

The New Rules of Naming

Igor Naming Guide

Online Brand Names