When I started JWA Prague in 1990, (www.jwa.cz) I remember being a bit obsessed as to what I would call the company; in the end, and for a number of reasons, I settled on JWA Prague (rather incredibly, JWA itself had already been taken!). I soon found out that it was a pretty dumb name, if nothing else because W isn’t used in Czech and when talking about the company the locals pronounce it ‘Yay Vay Arr’, and non- Czechs think that it is just an abbreviation for ‘Jo Weaver & Associates’ (it isn’t!) since I am the person that is known! All in all, one could think that the name was a bit of a mistake.
I also paid quite a lot of money at that time to a graphic agency to come up with a logo … which I am still using. It is blue (as they thought that was my favourite colour… actually it is my second favourite, but green wasn’t felt to be ‘corporate’ enough!) and the ‘globe’ above the ‘J’ is meant to show that we are multinational, but in fact people think it is either a tennis ball (for obvious reasons… thank God we stuck to blue) or a balloon (my male friends at that time liking to ask me on a regular basis if I spent my days blowing up balloons for the many events that we were perceived to be organizing….!).
The thing is, shock horror, that I don’t really care about names and logos; I always like to say that that is because I am a ‘communications person’ and my job is to build a brand by making it visible, rather than an ‘advertising person’, whose job it is to make the brand look nice in order for the communications people to do their stuff. And before you all start saying ‘rubbish’, think about Nike, McDonalds, Adidas, Kofola (for those Czechs reading), etc, etc…. Would any of those names and logos mean anything if the company hadn’t spent a fortune making them instantly recognizable?
I am often asked by clients ‘what do I think about the name’ (or the logo) and I think I usually disappoint them by saying that I don’t really care about it. The name, itself, isn’t going to bring in the business (even if it is completely obvious to everyone what it means… ). It is the work that goes into building the awareness of the name that will make a company successful.
Unfortunately, by the time your brand is really established and everyone knows it, you have the problem of having a name and/or logo that is old fashioned or no longer quite suitable. What to do? My own view would be to keep the name but to marginally change the logo so that bit by bit it turns into something else without anyone noticing… will it make a difference to the amount of business you get though? I doubt it. But at least it gives the PR people something to talk about!