You can run, but you can’t hide. The newspaper headline that spells out why a name change doesn’t work if that’s the only thing that changes.
What is a good name?
Most people would agree that the 1996 Lucent spin-off from AT&T was a brilliant success. The name ‘Lucent’ is cited as a triumph, as shiningly transformative as the literal meaning of the word on which it is based (lucent:from Latin lūcēns, present participle of lūcēre to shine).
And yet, according to one authoritative account, the whole naming process was a debilitating, angst-ridden affair. Lucent was unloved and unwanted. Right to the end AT&T executives were ready to ditch it. Consider this passage from Optical Illusions: Lucent And The Crash Of Telecom:
“No one loved the name Lucent…The choice of both name and symbol were controversial until the last, and Landor continued to developed the AGB name [Alexander Graham Bell’s initials] and an alternative, Telascent or Telescent.
As the process dragged on, Rich McGinn and Henry Schacht [President and CEO elect respectively] chatted in front of an elevator one evening. They had reconciled themselves to the fact that the Bell name [American Bell] would not be available, that no new name would emerge to sweep them off their feet, and as their elevator car descended to the ground the two agreed that Lucent was the best option available.
Yet neither was overly enthusiastic about the name, and as they ascended the stage to announce it to their employees, McGinn turned to Schacht and said, “Come on, Henry. One last chance, we can still change it if we want to”.”
Their worst fears were realized on launch day when newspapers ran their usual ‘What’s in a name’ story with quotes such as this:
“It’s a horrible name,” said Danny Briere, president of TeleChoice, a telecommunications consulting firm. “The good news is that it doesn’t sound like anything else; the bad is there’s a reason for it.”
For engineers steeped in a century of the Bell culture and telecom jargon Lucent was outside of their frame of reference. It was a gift thrust upon a recalcitrant management by force of circumstance: a spin-off needs a unique, ownable name in order to be spun-off, and all other options that were within their comfort zone were not available.
Kathy Fitzgerald, Lucent’s VP of Corporate Communications, was revealingly philosophical on this point:
“It turns out you don’t need to love the name or the logo to be able to turn it into one of the best known names in communications in less than two years. Because, trust me, I was at best lukewarm about the name – with its key virtue being that it wasn’t a made-up name and was actually a word in the meaning ‘marked with clarity and glowing with light’.”
The definition was repeated like a mantra to ward off evil spirits. How many people knew Lucent was a real word? Why does it matter? And how is ‘marked with clarity and glowing with light’ relevant?
Underlying this comment is an atavistic fear of what many executives think of as ‘made-up’ corporate names and a bias towards the tried-and-true of the familiar.
In spite of its eventual business decline and merger with Alcatel of France, Lucent’s initial success gave rise to a tranche of sound-alike imitators, circa 2000 – Agilent, Navigant, Thrivent, Mirant – all of them made-up names for companies hoping to borrow some of Lucent’s magic. Such is the corporate world psychology of naming.
So what transformed Lucent from the unpopular choice it was into a celebrated case of rebranding brilliance?
In a word: success.
The Lucent Technologies IPO was a huge success, thanks in no small measure to a $100 million ad campaign designed to underwrite the stock issue. Ipso facto, the name is a success.
At the other end of this spectrum there is the example of Consignia, which one newspaper was moved to call “one of the most disastrous corporate rebrandings ever undertaken”.
Consignia was launched in 2001 as the new name for the UK’s Post Office Group, a cumbersome collection of inefficient delivery services which included that most royal and ancient of institutions, the Royal Mail.
The rigorous restructuring plan was years in development. It was designed to bring the government-owned enterprise into the 21st century as a modern, competitively viable and internationally focused business. However, they didn’t reckon with public sentiment and the media’s penchant for indulging it.
If you can include the three words ‘royal’, ‘institution’ and ‘branding’ in the same sentence you have a potent complexity of popular interest that is red meat to the rabid British press.
After a remorseless torrent of negative news stories, union strike threats over job cuts and mounting financial losses the restructuring strategy was abandoned. In a final act of high symbolism, the whole sorry mess was renamed yet again, this time as the Royal Mail Group. Political expediency won the day. Consignia was sacrificed as proof of the plan’s demise.
Was Consignia a bad name? No. There are other names out there of similar ilk doing serviceable duty – Altria, Aviva, Centrica, etc. Consignia was pilloried in part because it did not do a very good job of explaining itself. In the end the strategy failed and, therefore, the name is associated to this day with a failure.
It was a lesson learned well by Aviva a few years later. When the British insurer Norwich Union decided to unify its global operations under a single name, Aviva, they took no chances. Ringo Starr, Bruce Willis and Alice Cooper were featured in a series of high-profile TV ads to make the point that changing your name is really OK; we did it – and just look at how successful we are.
It was rebranding 101 to the letter. The name and the campaign may have been pretty banal stuff but it worked. Aviva got its version of the story out first and stuck to it.
Is Aviva a better name than Consignia? Is Consignia worse than Lucent? It doesn’t matter.
In business, as in war, the victors get to write history. Ultimately, all rebranding is about PR and the battle for control of the story.
Swedish? Chinese? Boring? Anything?
It is a widely accepted axiom among brand consultants that leading brands can be identified by a single word or concept. BMW, for example, owns “driving” and Mercedes-Benz owns “prestige”.
Volvo supposedly owns “safety”.
The single word theory was first propounded by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their classic 1981 book ‘Positioning: The Battle for your Mind’. Their hugely successful theory (in book-sale terms, at least) has since been handed down from father to daughter, generation to generation, and has thus passed into blogosphere folklore where it is regurgitated wholesale as an immutable tenet of brand strategy.
It gets a bit squirly in the retelling. I have seen confident assertions that the Disney brand variously owns ‘magic’, ‘fun’, ‘happiness’ or ‘family entertainment’ without an ounce of substantiation. Well, which is it?
Can a brand really be associated with a single, dominant trait or concept? More importantly, should it be?
It has to be remembered, of course, that Messrs. Ries and Trout are former admen whose simplistic brand-building notions were formulated in those far off days of the pre-Internet era when the world was a much simpler place and a single media buy could reach a majority of America’s TV audience.
For Volvo, a rugged car built to withstand the rigors of Sweden’s weather and roads, safety was a reasonable advertising campaign “positioning” back then when safety standards were much less stringent and activist Ralph Nader was taking on the entire American automotive industry. Nader’s book, ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’, revealed that many American automobiles were shockingly unsafe.
Enter Volvo. Built like a tank, drives like a tank. But it’s safe.
When all your competition is proven to be unsafe, that’s quite a differentiator.
Since then the world has turned several times. Technology has leveled the manufacturing playing field and vehicle safety standards are much more rigorous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the safest cars for 2010 are the Buick LaCrosse (large cars), Audi A3 (midsize cars), and Honda Civic 4-door model (small cars).
Where’s Volvo? Nowhere.
Perhaps in perverse vindication of the Ries/Trout theory, and much to its disadvantage, Volvo cannot get beyond the lead weight of that word safety.
Design, styling, performance, quality and brand heritage are the essential ingredients of brand building in the automotive industry today, all of which are attuned to micro-segments of the market. Safe just isn’t sexy. It’s expected. What else have you got to offer?
It’s a problem Ford tried in vain to find an answer to for more than a decade, without success. After Ford purchased the Volvo in 1999 various attempts were made to spice up the brand in the US and pitch it to a younger audience. The kids were too busy driving their Scions to notice and the brand languished, unloved and ignored, except by a declining number of die-hard aficionados.
What the Volvo brand is and what it can be is no doubt preoccupying the collective minds its new owners, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Geely successfully marketed “the world’s cheapest car” to an emerging middle class in the country’s inland cities. Volvo represents an altogether different challenge.
Volvo’s brand heritage offers little inspiration. The name (it means “I roll” in Latin) was registered in 1911 by SKF, a Swedish manufacturer of ball bearings, for a new product line. The plan was shelved and the name was later resurrected for the construction of a vehicle for the Swedish market.
Volvo’s priapic logo, a circle with an arrow pointing diagonally upwards to the right, is an uneasy amalgam of symbolic references that includes the Swedish iron industry, Mars, the Roman God of War, and the male gender. Add a word that means ‘I roll’ and you have all the qualities you would want to avoid in a modern, luxury vehicle.
Geely has a dilemma. Safety in the Chinese market is not a compelling product attribute. For the rest of the world – a Chinese-owned brand positioned on safety? A hard sell.
The speculation is that Geely plans to sell Chinese-manufactured Volvos to rich Chinese and government and army officials, a ‘showcase’ segment currently dominated by Audi. Owned by Volkswagen, Audi is by far the No. 1 luxury vehicle brand in China. It sold 157,188 units last year, surpassing Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.
Volkswagen was the first foreign automaker to set up a joint venture in China in 1984, long before others. Today, Audi is viewed as a made-in-China luxury brand among government officials.
Can Volvo unseat Audi, the vehicle of choice for Ironman Tony Stark, the epitome of technological cool? We should not underestimate the far-sighted Chinese and their almost endearing belief in the fungibility of brands.
After Nanjing Automobile Group acquired MG, the legendary British roadster brand, it decided to change the meaning of the famous initials to help promote the brand in its new home.
The letters MG are derived from ‘Morris Garages‘, the original 1923 manufacturing home of the MG in Britain. Nanjing has proclaimed it “wants Chinese consumers to know this brand as ‘Modern Gentleman’, to see that this brand represents grace and style.”
Modern Gentleman? Even Ries and Trout could not come up with that one. Maybe there’s hope still for Volvo.
There is growing displeasure in Britain over the use of the name “British Petroleum” by top federal officials in the United States.
And as the Economist charts below, the American press has taken to calling the firm British Petroleum since April to stress Britain’s role in the disaster, even though the company was renamed BP in 2001.
Fair or not, the oil company is, undeniably, very British in terms of a public persona defined in no small measure by its ruddy-cheeked CEO Tony Hayward. Indeed, he has come to personify BP: petulant, out-of-touch, inept and unmistakably British when he opens his mouth. It doesn’t help the hapless oil executive that he also bears a unfortunate resemblance to Michael Sheen (he’s the one on the right), the actor who made his career playing arrogant British SOBs in movies such as Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Damned United.
British Petroleum or BP, the concern is that its woes may also reflect badly on British firms doing business in America. Enter Bob Dudley, BP’s managing director who has taken over day-to-day responsibility for managing the company’s oil spill response from Tony Hayward. Temperamentally, at least, he seems better suited to deal with the situation. He is also American; his accent may go some way to help BP rebrand itself beyond British, if not beyond petroleum.
As a footnote to this post, it is interesting to learn how many people believe “Beyond Petroleum” to be the actual name of the oil company. Witness the following:
“BP changed its name from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. Our statistics suggest that even though BP has changed its name to Beyond Petroleum in the recent years, much of the public still thinks BP stands for British Petroleum and not Beyond Petroleum. Though the company changed its former name “British Petroleum” to Beyond Petroleum after merger with Amoco, it comes out that people were not aware of Beyond Petroleum till the BP Oil Disaster struck the Gulf of Mexico” : http://tinyurl.com/3yyfcbh
CA, the company formerly known as Computer Associates, is displaying all the characteristics of Hamlet. It is a company that can’t make up its mind.
Founded in 1976 as Computer Associates International, Inc., the company legally changed its corporate name to CA, Inc., in February 2006 while in the midst of a $2.2 billion fraud investigation that had dogged it for four years.
Explaining the name change at the time, CEO John Swainson said:
“CA is a changed company, but not an entirely new company. We’ve taken the strengths of the past and combined them with new initiatives, strategies and ideas to ensure CA is the clear industry leader in meeting the evolving information technology needs of customers.”
This week, four years on, the company announced it had changed it’s name again – this time to CA Technologies. Explaining this change, new CEO Bill McCracken, said:
“The name CA Technologies both acknowledges our past yet points to our future as a leader in delivering the technologies that will revolutionize the way IT powers business agility.”
Spot the difference?
While the latest statement does make reference to the current industry buzz-term “business agility”, the two statements are identical in their sentiment and intent. There is nothing to help us understand the logic of the addition of ‘technologies’ in the CA name.
Marianne Budnik, chief marketing officer, did add: “The brand and name change to CA Technologies was designed with insights from nearly 700 customers, partners and market thought leaders.”
It begs the question – insights into what, specifically? I would hazard a guess: CA hasn’t worked as a name. It was a hasty, myopic decision made at a time the company needed to distance itself from a debilitating scandal. CA was the easy choice, but the wrong choice. It just wasn’t thought through.
The pros and cons of initials as corporate names aside (more on this later), CA works visually when connected to the original name, Computer Associates, as in the amended logo introduced in 2001, shown above. Dropping the Computer Associates name from the logo was probably regarded as a minor adjustment. And as the internal rationale most likely went: competitors such as IBM, HP and BMC do just fine with initials, so why can’t we?
Well, disconnected from Computer Associates, CA becomes problematic for a number of reasons.
Unlike IBM, HP and BMC, ‘CA’ has no hard letter sounds. Consequently, CA it is not heard as two distinct initials, C and A. It is heard as ‘seeyay’.
Seeyay? Come again. Oh, you mean C and A, the old Computer Associates?
CA is nothing but a weak proxy for Computer Associates, a whiter shade of pale. It is too phonetically lightweight and nondescript as a name and simply not robust enough to acquire meaning of its own.
The other, not insignificant, problem – Google CA and up come pages of reference to California. CA means California first and foremost.
A new CEO brings in a new perspective. Bill McCracken decides change is necessary, and this time it will be based on research. Hence, the 700 insights Ms. Budnik mentioned. But they were probably given in response to a very specific question concerning the CA name, and very likely centering on preferences between modifiers, such as CA Software, CA Solutions and CA Technologies, etc.
Only in such a range of soft options could CA Technologies emerge as a winner. ‘Technologies’ is a verbal Band Aid and adds nothing other than a glottal stop to a very inadequate name.
This latest name change amounts to little more than fiddling around the problem, and in doing so CA creates another problem for itself.
In her statement, Ms. Budnik also said the name was “developed to ensure that we tell a consistent story in the market that reflects the full breadth and depth of what we offer.”
A redundant word in a name makes for inconsistency, not consistency. ‘Technologies’ is a such word. Lucent Technologies was always referred to just as Lucent, for example. No doubt CA Technologies will appear on things the company can control, such as corporate signage, stationery and collateral. But in all other cases it will be CA. The company’s ticker symbol is still CA, it’s URL is still ca.com, and the company still defaults to CA in references to itself on its website. It will still be CA in headlines, analyst calls and in conversation. Where is the consistency?
Rather than finessing with the corporate name a simpler option would have been a tagline to anchor the name in some specificity for marketing purposes. EMC’s “Where information lives”, or GE’s “Imagination at work” are two of the better examples.
The better and braver option for Computer Associates would have been to change the name of the company in 2006 when it had reason and opportunity to, the accounting scandal apart. While Computer Associates’ success was built on mainframe software a different future beckons, one in which companies manage their technology in what the industry calls the “cloud.” The name should have claimed that future unequivocally.
“Yes, we are an oil company. But right now we are also providing natural gas, solar, hydrogen, geothermal. Because we live on this planet, too.”
No, this is not part of a mea culpa from BP. It’s a couple of lines from a Chevron ad, and one which BP would do well to consider emulating given the situation they are in.
With smart and refreshing directness, Chevron’s “Human Energy” TV ad from McGarry Bowen makes the case for oil and an oil company better than it has ever been made.
Actor Campbell Scott narrates the 150 second spot that unapologetically states Chevron’s case and its position in the global energy debate as an oil company searching for solutions.
“…today, tomorrow and the foreseeable future, our lives demand oil. But what’s also true is that we can provide it more intelligently, more efficiently, more respectfully”.
It is in marked contrast to BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign. Chevron seeks to explain and educate; BP tries to obfuscate.
The problem with the “Beyond Petroleum” campaign for me is that it has always smacked of rebranding spin. Why? Because BP is, undeniably, an oil company. And a very big one at that. Like Chevron, BP is one of the world’s six oil majors, along with ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Total of France.
Any attempt to deny that fact, or at least mask it, was bound to tempt fate in an industry in which major shit happens, as with the 2005 explosion at a BP refinery in Texas, and the Alaska oil pipeline leak a year later. Now, with oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico unabated and officials giving no indication that the flow can be contained soon, BP is unfortunately up to its oily neck in an imminent environmental disaster. Any lingering credibility attached to its pretense of being an energy company that has gone beyond petroleum has been deep-sixed along with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
The “Beyond Petroleum” campaign was born opportunistically out of BP’s merger with Amoco in 1998.
Back then, BP was British Petroleum. After a brief but respectable period as BP Amoco, the company was recast in 2000 as plain BP. Replete with its elegant, Landor-designed sunburst logo, the intent was to send the message that the company was looking past oil and gas toward a benign, eco-friendly future of solar and renewable energy.
John Browne, the CEO at the time, wanted to position BP as a broader energy company, not just an oil company, ahead of the looming issues of climate change, energy security and supply scarcity. Just as all oil companies are now attempting to do, he saw it as a way to “gain a seat at the table, a chance to influence future rules.”
The slogan “Beyond Petroleum” was a clever if specious way of utilizing the initials ‘BP’ to emphasize they no longer stood for British Petroleum. “Better people, better products, big picture, beyond petroleum” went the alliterative mantra.
But idea was pushed way beyond the bounds of its limits. BP’s ill-advised attempt to position itself beyond the petroleum sector on the basis of its laudable but marginal investments in renewables is rather like China claiming to be “Beyond Communism” because it now owns capitalist Hong Kong. It is a huge stretch of a small, albeit desirable, truth.
How can an oil company be ”Beyond Petroleum” without actively distancing itself from its core product? It’s a very hard sell when your logo is emblazoned on 10,000 gas stations in the US alone and the vast majority of your profits come from the black stuff.
BP has really tried to clean up its act over the last few years. How the company extricates itself from its current predicament will be proof enough of whether we are seeing a new BP.
One thing it can do is finally move beyond “Beyond Petroleum” and talk about the business it is in with conviction, not what business it isn’t in.
Cleggmania is sweeping Britain. On the basis of his performance in the first two televised debates between the three political party leaders, Nick Clegg is the new golden boy of British politics. People are talking of him as the leader Britain needs.
Most watchers of the debates — the first in British electoral history — scored the contests as a surprise victory for Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, over Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron.
Expenses scandals have left electors deeply contemptuous of parliamentarians. Clegg, as the outsider, managed to convince the audience that he was one of them and not part of a cozy old political machine.
His big problem is his name. Clegg.
Britain has come a long way from the noblesse oblige era of aristocratic, Eton-educated political leaders, but not quite far enough for the Cleggs, I fear.
It was a sure sign of the times when the Right Honourable Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, 2nd Viscount Stansgate, renounced his peerage in the Sixties and reinvented himself as man-of-the-people ‘Tony Benn’ to pursue a career in British politics. It was said he had his shirt collars specially frayed at Harrods for the role.
And Eton-educated* Anthony Charles Lynton Blair led ‘New Labour’ out of the political wilderness as plain Tony Blair.
But Nick Clegg has no where else to go.
What’s wrong with Clegg might not be apparent to America ears, but to the British there is plenty wrong with it, although people probably wouldn’t say as much. Clegg is brass-necked working class, a clunkingly Anglo-Saxon, irredeemably Northern, below the salt name.
Clegg is, in fact, one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon surnames on record, pre-Domesday Book and all that, but it doesn’t count for much in modern Britain. Clegg would be the name of the dunderhead in a TV sitcom, or the feckless foot soldier in a Shakespeare historical drama.
Gordon Brown can’t be anything other than he is – all Brown, no gloss. Eton-educated David Cameron hasn’t yet reduced himself to ‘Dave’, but he might still before Election Day on May 6 if the Clegg continues to live up to his ancient family motto:
“Let him take what he is able to take”.
*Tony Blair was educated Fettes College and not Eton. I am indebted to Alan Stephen for pointing out the error.
What is it about Accenture that engenders so much negativity?
Time recently included Accenture in what it referred to as the ‘Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes‘, putting it in the company of Comcast’s new Xfinity brand, SyFy and Blackwater’s name change to Xe.
According to Time, the rebranding of Andersen Consulting to Accenture was “regarded as one of the worst rebrandings in corporate history”. The criteria seems to be that if any name change becomes remotely controversial (and most of them are to reporters) it qualifies as a disaster.
Then last week Business Insider, in conjunction with Method and Rob Frankel, a branding expert, came out with its own list - ”The worst rebranding disasters in the past few years”. Accenture is in there again, along with a mixed bag including the Tropicana pack redesign, the London 2012 Olympic logo, and “The Shack’ advertising campaign.
Once again the criteria for inclusion is hazy although the writer, one Bianca Male, says earnestly that “successful rebranding involves overhauling a company’s goals, message, and culture — not just changing a name or a logo”.
Quite so. But that’s a lot to expect from an orange juice carton redesign. As far as Accenture is concerned I would (and do) argue that the rebrand succeeds at every level on this basis.
The worst they can throw at Accenture is that the name is ‘meaningless’ and the rebrand cost $100 million, suggesting the company has been extravagantly profligate with its shareholders’ money.
First the name: as unlovely as it may be, it is far from being the disaster that Time and Bianca Male insists.
As anyone who has been involved in global branding programs knows only too well, finding a name that is universally available and has a positive interpretation in many different languages practically mandates a manufactured name in the Verizon, Novartis, Agilent genre. As a global company, the Accenture name had to be cleared in 47 countries and acceptable in 200 different languages.
As for the cost, a $100 million is about par for the course with corporate rebrands these days, most of that going on advertising and media. If cost is qualification for a disastrous rebranding, where is the mention of Verizon, AT&T and Lucent? Those rebranding campaigns cost about the same.
The main fact that is so oddly overlooked in the criticism of Accenture is the name change was forced upon Andersen Consulting. Unlike the Bell Atlantic/Verizon name change, for example, Andersen Consulting had to change its name as a requirement of its acrimonious legal split from its parent, Andersen Worldwide. Neither did it have the luxury of time. Andersen Consulting had to totally reinvent itself globally within 147 days of the August 2000 arbitration ruling. The risk of getting it wrong was huge.
Whatever one might think of the name itself, Accenture today is very successful $21 billion global enterprise. Its brand has been beautifully and comprehensively executed and positively embraced by clients and 180,000 employees worldwide.
Where is the disaster? Where is the failure?
Try looking at Accenture’s competitors. KPMG’s consulting arm, for example, changed its name to BearingPoint in 2002. Ironically, a bearing point is a nautical term for setting directions to a specific destination.
BearingPoint ran aground: it went into bankruptcy in 2009 and was broken up. There is a disaster if ever there was one.
Name changes are easy copy for reporters – the cost, the unusual name, the reaction. Gasp! They need little research, just rewrite the last article on the subject, and ‘experts’ who will freshen the controversy with ready quotes about how rank the name is are easily found.
For me, it is somewhat depressing to see reputable branding companies and “branding gurus” complicit in this kind of shabby, ill-informed exercise at the expense of branding industry’s already damaged credibility.
For those interested in the facts, here is an excellent white paper on Andersen Consulting’s marketing strategy and its transition to Accenture.
I make no apologies nor take any credit for the April 1st post yesterday. The Pillsbury Doughboy death notice has been circulating round the Web for a while and the excruciating puns continue to amuse.
There was one story I came across that almost had me taken in. As posted on the Name Newsreel page of this site, the news item concerned the rebranding of the Church of England. In light of the current scandals swirling around the Catholic Church and the real decline in CofE attendance in recent years the story had a ring of credibility, as the best April Fools stories do.
Only when it mentioned the Queen’s preferred name choice of ‘Establisha’ did the penny drop. But then, after Royal Mail/Consignia fiasco, one should be prepared for anything.
For those who missed it:
The church said yesterday that discussions had been going on behind the scenes for several months between Lambeth Palace and Buckingham Palace. The Queen is understood to be keen to get the process completed before Charles becomes Supreme Governor.
If the rebranding goes ahead, the monarch is rumoured to favour the name ‘Establisha’, to reflect the church’s status with regard to the Crown.
A spokesperson for the Church said: “Approaches have been made by other churches over the last few years, who have expressed concern that the Church’s name was misleading.
“After friendly discussions it was felt that all Christians would benefit from an updated brand. But this is a process that we want the whole country to be engaged in”.
It was emphasised that the name change would not alter the church’s established status, but it was not clear whether churchgoers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be consulted.
“The Church will still be the church of the nation. But this is a recognition that the existing name could be seen as a barrier”, a spokesperson said. “The Church needs to be open to new ways of communicating and presenting itself. We hope that the result will be a fresh start and a new image which also reflects the changing place of religion in a plural society”.
More details will be released in the next few months about how the consultation will take place. It will formally begin on Back to Church Sunday.
The Church said that the initiative would involve a new Facebook page and an interactive area on the Church of England website. People will be invited to make suggestions via text message and Twitter. Local churches will also be encouraged to hold public meetings.
Suggestions will be shortlisted at General Synod in 2011 through a deliberative process, similar to that employed recently by Democracy campaign Power2010. The country will then be encouraged to vote on the proposals in an X-factor style run off conducted under the Single Transferable Voting system.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has also given his backing to the initiative.
As the FT reports above, Credit Suisse is planning to rename something it calls Xmtch.
The Swiss bank has decided Xmtch is simply not cutting it in the arcane world of ETFs (exchange traded funds). “The rebrand”, the FT astutely observes, “seems to point to an admission that the business needs help.”
News of the planned name change, that will make it “very clear” the ETF business is part of the Credit Suisse stable, comes after the bank announced it had recruited ETF heavyweight Dan Draper from somewhere called Lyxor to shake-up the business.
While I am sure Dan Draper from Lyxor knows a lot about ETFs, Credit Suisse would have done far better to bring in Don Draper from Sterling Cooper. Don could have saved the bank a substantial part of the fortune it is no doubt paying Dan by giving it a few pieces of advice about names along the following lines:
“First, if you don’t know how to pronounce something, it does not even qualify as a name. How am I supposed to say Xmtch?
Second, a name should give you a clue as to what the product is. What is Xmtch? Does anybody out there know? Is it really any wonder your ETF business isn’t doing so well?
Third, if you want to connect the ETF business to the Credit Suisse name, how about something like, um, ‘Credit Suisse ETFs’?
OK, you can send Dan back to Planet Lyxor now. My invoice is in the mail.”