I suppose you could say I’m an accidental brand strategist. It was a fateful meeting with Walter Landor in the 1980s that lead to my conversion from print journalism to the world of corporate identity and branding.
I was a writer and editor with the Financial Times in London. Walter was in town from San Francisco for work with British Airways. He convinced me (finally) that business journalism was a perfect skill set for the world of branding. In 1985 I joined Landor Associates as Managing Director Europe to open the company’s first international office in London.
Engagements for clients such as ABN Amro Bank, Alcatel, Barclays Bank, British Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways confirmed Walter’s conviction: the epitome of a great corporate brand is its ability to tell powerfully original stories and communicate ideas that inspire, convince and persuade.
So, in a way, I never left journalism. Language shapes reality. Names are language tools used to organize and structure our understanding of the world and everything in it. The naming of something is a political act; it endows significance and denotes ownership or a proprietary authority of the namer over that which is named.
In the business world naming is no less political. I have seen executives at Fortune 500 companies agonize for hours over name candidates for a huge merger and then breeze through a business agenda of remarkable complexity with teams of attorneys and investment bankers.
And yet the whole subject of naming is often regarded as an inconsequential and insignificant aside, something that anyone could do if they had the time. Indeed, I have heard attorneys advise clients in need of a name to get a get a group of students in a room and provide them with beer and pizza. It’s that easy.
No, it’s not. This blog is dedicated to the moments of triumph, tragedy and farce that the art and practice of naming has given rise to. I’d love to hear about your stories and experiences with names and naming.
Thanks for dropping in.
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