What’s in a name?

A Rose by any other name smells the same, but will it sells the same? May be. But people do believe, changing their names will change their fortunes. They consult the numerologist or astro nameologist and add another e/h/i to their names to drive away all the bad luck. Even corporations across the globe are not an exception to this, as they do indulge in changing the brand names to drive out the bad perception from the minds of consumer.

Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to the abbreviated form KFC, as the name fried gets associated with high fat and less nutrition value. So now what this KFC means? It do not have any expansion. KFC is just KFC, that’s it. No Chicken, No Fried, No Kentucky, as they have problems with all the three words. Also the abbreviated version was used by people even before they officially name it, so the brand continuity was not an issue at all. Closer home, we’ve ITC, which also chose it’s abbreviated form, from the original name, Indian Tobacco Company. Sunfeast Milky Magic biscuit for kids, but manufactured by Indian Tobacco Company – it doesn’t sound good right? As the name tobacco has negative connotations, this name change was somewhat forced into the company, once they decided to venture into new business like foods.

Sometimes not just a single company or a brand, the whole industry itself wants to be called in a different name to smell sweet. McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Pizza hut, Domino’s and their likes didn’t want to be called as fast food chains as the name fast food is perceived as unhealthy and junk food. So the whole industry selected a new name called, Quick Service Restaurant to avoid referring themselves as fast food chains. Similarly the call center industry switched to the name, Business Process Outsourcing as the name call center is more associated with low end work. Now that the city of Bangalore changed it’s name to Bengaluru, will it helps to come out of the negative association with job loss and the notorious term Bangalored?

Following others is not considered as a successful strategy in business. But Tatas did just that when renaming their automobile unit, Tata Engineering (TELCO) to Tata Motors. India’s automobile major in its aspiration to join the international club of General Motors, Ford Motors, Honda Motors, Suzuki Motors, first decided to change it’s name to the global convention of suffixing with motors. May be it’s their style of announcing the world, that they’ve stepped into the international arena to fight against the global biggies.

That’s enough of the naming business. It is the iphone naming controversy that triggered all these thoughts of naming brands in me. ipod, iTunes and now iPhone, the going was good for Apple till Cisco filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement over the iphone name, as it had already introduced voip phones under the iphone brand. The history of many successful brands shows that naming is not just an one time affair. So instead of fighting with Cisco over the iphone trademark, why can’t Apple come out with a stunning name just like their product. iFone / iFon is the one that strikes my mind at first thought. If you have any better names do send it to Steve Jobs as it will save him millions of dollars from the lawsuit.


  1. There was a book called “leadership” by Sandeep and Manisha chaudhary which stated that people actually behaved and lived upto the meanings of their names.

  2. Siva Kumar says:

    I beg to differ from the previous comments. Most people with the name ‘Arokyam’ (health) are never healthy. People with names like selva nayagam, thanga pandi, vairam, guberan (all referring wealth) usually don’t become rich. As far as i have seen, people with names referring to love are the most hated people around. That makes me believe that there is nothing to keep worrying about names, let alone spellings.
    Trying to have a different name can be catchy and good(Flickr,yahoo!, Google etc), but being superstitious will never get anyone anywhere.

  3. ///slash\\\ says:

    Bob Cringley has an interesting article which argues that this is a deliberate strategy by apple to get “free” publicity.

  4. Siva Rajendran says:

    Thanks for your comments, Hiren and Siva.
    Slah – I don’t think Apple need any free publicity for their phone. It will help only Cisco with some free publicity. I definitely would not have known about this voip phone from Linksys, if not for the controversy with Apple’s iPhone.


  1. […] What’s in a name? […]

Speak Your Mind