Lucent, Consignia and the psychology of naming

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).

Remember this TV ad? $100 million says you do.

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.

Ringo, Aviva ad
Ringo, it was the Beatles who made you famous.

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.

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A seasonal recipe for Consignia — a naming stew

Take one ancient and beloved bird of royal plumage; pluck well. Remove and discard name. Stuff with old chestnuts and brandspeak. Add inept management and one disgruntled union, finely chopped. Pour on scorn of a public tired of silly corporate names; season liberally with financial losses and lay-offs by the thousand. Bring to a simmer and stew gently in intense media glare for about 15 months. Consign entire dish to the garbage when cooked.

Voila! Consignia stew for your delectation.

This unappetizing dish was served up by Britain’s Post Office Group in 2001. What began as an ostensibly routine rebranding of a government-owned enterprise was transformed by a noxious mix of ingredients into what one newspaper called “one of the most disastrous corporate rebrandings ever undertaken”.

Strong words. Were they justified?

From left to right in 15 months

The Post Office Group delivered a first class example of the Juliet Syndrome —a name’s power to draw scorn and ridicule and become the focal point of a much wider drama. Like a hare pursued by hounds, Consignia was hunted down and torn to pieces by a voracious media. But, as with the Allegis affair, the Consignia ‘disaster’ was not so much about the pros and cons of a name, although it undoubtedly played its part, as a sorry tale of strategy and communications ineptitude on a grand scale.

*   *   *

The business case for change was plausible enough. Britain’s Post Office Group was the organizational structure for an unwieldy range of related mail and parcel delivery services: there was the Royal Mail, the mail delivery service; Parcelforce, a parcel delivery business; and the post offices, a national network of 17,500 local ‘stores’ where mail is received, sorted, and delivered, stamps are sold, and television and fishing rod licenses are issued along with a ragbag of other services. For many towns in Britain the post office is the hub of the community.

The Post Office Group grew out of a British government institution that dates back to the reign of Charles 1. In 1969 the monstrously cumbersome General Post Office as it was then called was abolished and the assets transferred to two newly created entities — British Telecommunications, handling the phone business, and the Post Office Group.

In 2000, the Post Office Group decided it was time for another change. No longer simply a mail-only organization, the group had become an operationally complex business that had an ambitious eye on international expansion, having already invested £500 million on overseas acquisitions in Europe and North America. The Post Office also provided services such as e-commerce fulfillment, billing and customer management, logistics and warehousing.

‘Modern, meaningful and entirely appropriate’

As part of a plan to streamline the business and make it more competitive it was decided that the Post Office was to become a state-owned private company on March 26, 2001, allowing management to run it more like a private enterprise.

Ahead of this momentous change the group’s chief executive, John Roberts, announced that the frumpy Post Office Group would be known in future as Consignia PLC. The racy new name was, he said, ‘modern, meaningful and entirely appropriate’ to the evolving organization.

*   *   *

Keith Wells of Dragon Brands, the consultancy appointed to handle the rebranding, chummily explained the logic of the name to the BBC: “We were researching hard into what this organization called the Post Office was facing. What we needed was something that could help pull all the bits together.”

Staying with the Post Office name for the holding company was impossible, he said, given the difficulty in obtaining a global copyright, a necessary step to international expansion.

Royal Mail?

“That has problems when operating in countries which have their own royal family, or have chopped the heads off their royals,’ said Wells. So Dragon Brands set about creating a new umbrella name for the whole organization that would work internationally, and something that didn’t tie the Post Office Group down to mail.

Why Consignia?

“It’s got consign in it. It’s got a link with insignia, so there is this kind of royalty-ish thing in the back of one’s mind,’ Wells explained. “And there’s this lovely dictionary definition of consign which is ‘to entrust to the care of’.”

It’s no joke – how the British public saw it

All very nice. Except that the public wasn’t buying the need for change. Not with any name. Specially not Consignia.

The BBC website gave voice to a national outpouring of protest and scorn directed at the name. The timing did not help. The rebranding was meant to usher in a new era of efficiency and international expansion. Instead, the postal services business declined alarmingly. In an attempt to stem spiraling losses, reported to be running at £1.5 billion ($2.16 billion) a year, thousands of postal workers were laid off, and it was newly-minted Consignia delivering the stream of  bad news.

Enter, stage left, a Trades Union Official. William Hayes, who represented 300,000 strike-primed postal workers, cannily played for sympathy by tapping into the entrenched and widespread public dislike of Consignia when he asked employees and the public to boycott the name and use Post Office instead.

”We think the name is daft,” was his official verdict.

By May of 2002 the beleaguered Consignia had a new chairman in Allan Leighton. The situation required action. There was little room for maneuver but he had one political card and he played it on national television. Interviewed by David Frost on the BBC with the Trades Union Official he conceded that the timing of the name introduction was ‘unfortunate’ as it had coincided with a period of underperformance.

Frost pressed him about the name.

David Frost: “And, you’re mentioning there the Consignia point, that re-branding was obviously a disaster and it’s a terrible name — are you going to get rid of?”

Allan Leighton: “Yes, I think eventually I think that’s the case.”

David Frost: “Good news for everybody who wants the name changed — get back to the good old name — you won’t have another new name, you’ll go back to the good old names.”

Alan Leighton: “We’ve got three very, very, good names to choose from and as you say those names have been round for a long time.”

Consignia was dead. Killed in a moment of television drama for political expediency.

A month later Consignia was finally put out of its misery. Plans for international expansion were shelved and the group was renamed Royal Mail Group plc – one of Frost’s “good old names”.

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

The line from the movie Cool Hand Luke could serve as an epitaph for Consignia. The logic was that nothing much would change as far as the British public was concerned, the post office name would still remain on thousands of retail branches. Likewise, the Royal Mail will continue to deliver letters — so what’s the point of drawing attention to something that wont affect people?

Keith Wells did acknowledge that confusion arose because the Post Office, in an attempt to save money, refrained from introducing the new name with an advertising campaign to explain the changes.

“We thought ‘what would be the point of advertising if all you would be saying is this name change is happening which is not going to affect you?'”

The failure on all sides to see the potential for public alarm and confusion, political mischief and media scrutiny was the real cause of the Consignia disaster.

Defending a name when political shit hits the media fan, as Wells was left  to do, is futile if no one is willing to defend the overall strategy. In the end, he was shamefully abandoned by his client — they were only too happy to let the name draw most of the opprobrium.

To a point, Dragon Brands delivered what was asked of them. Consignia was vilified because people hated what it stood for – change without explanation, change without engagement. The shadow of uncertainty cast across a cherished and hitherto reassuringly constant pillar of British life was insidious and disturbing. The ‘Post Office’ was changing its name to Consignia. What does it all mean?

That the name Consignia lent itself so readily to ridicule did not help its cause.

It just doesn’t quite come off. It looks plausible enough on paper – there clearly is the base word ‘consign’ but that’s not what you hear. Consignia fails the ear test – it sounds faintly absurd and pretentious, like a parody of those ubiquitous ‘generica’ names for drugs and cars (Corsa, Vectra, Viagra, Avandia, etc., etc.). And, in spite of the dictionary definition of consign, the meaning of that word has shifted in popular parlance: things are euphemistically ‘consigned to the waste bin’ when they fail, or fail to please.

“Consigned’ – not a good thing to be.

As flawed as the name was, it might have worked with a different strategy. Introducing Consignia first as the name of a new division to handle the corporate and international business, for example, could have given the Post Office Group a chance to stabilize the business as a plc while allowing Consignia to establish itself as a familiar and accepted fact of life as part of the organization. A transition to Consignia at the group name level at a more propitious time would have been smoother and possibly less controversial. A name change has to be linked to success.

The Seven New Laws Of Naming

Rebranding a national institution is not the same as naming a new company. Invoking examples of names such as Google, Apple, Kodak and Orange as justification for Consignia, as Keith Wells did, misses the point by a mile. Those disruptive companies came out of nowhere as virtual start-ups to create their own business category. Over time, their names became synonymous with an industry they created or reinvented. Consignia was significantly different; it was a very public rebranding of a well-established institution.

An immutable law of rebranding a high profile organization is that it is always going to be controversial. You will have to be prepared to overcome entrenched prejudices and allegiances. For a national institution with Royal associations, you can double that.

Rebranding at this level is more about psychology and the politics of change than it is about the intrinsic qualities of a new name. There’s a PR war to be won and it requires constant and proactive communication.

Here are the seven new laws of naming that need to be heeded and followed for corporate naming success:

1. All name changes of any consequence will be controversial. They have to be managed aggressively and proactively.

2. Controversy is good for newspaper circulation figures. There will always be people who don’t like a name change for whatever reason, and reporters will always find them for a quote. Be prepared.

4. Manage expectations about names. New names will always remind people of something else, something more familiar, to begin with. People have to be given a context in which to understand the name.

5. People will get used to new names over time as long as they are free from negative connotations that cannot be overcome (plain dumb names not withstanding).

6. Win hearts and minds internally first.

7. Social media is important. The urls, and are not available. Someone at Comcast is thinking ahead.

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Allegis, the name that died of shame

In the annals of corporate branding the Allegis affair must go down as the granddaddy of all rebranding debacles.

The story is told and retold as the classic disaster, a cautionary tale of what happens when a corporate naming exercise goes badly wrong.

Why — what did go wrong? Is Allegis really that bad a name?

In truth, the fuss had little to do with the wretched name itself.  There are more egregious examples of the genre that have served their corporate purpose successfully and much less controversially – Accenture, Agilent, Novartis and Verizon to mention a few.  And Allegis lives on quite happily these days as a name in various corporate guises, here, here and here, for example.

The disaster, as is often the case where corporate name changes are concerned, was a compound of corporate politics, investor impatience and union unrest. Like Gettysburg, Allegis was transformed through a complexity of circumstances from an innocuous name to a proxy for a battlefield.

The Allegis story starts in 1979 when Richard J. Ferris became chief executive of UAL Inc., the parent company of United Airlines.

A vigorous proponent of airline deregulation, Ferris saw an opportunity to shake up the stodgy industry and create a new kind of company. By putting together the airline with rental cars and hotel services under one umbrella, Ferris argued that large savings could be realized and more customers could be attracted through “synergy”, a word that had new and sexy currency in the corporate world at the time.

He spoke with messianic zeal of his visionary concept of a one-stop fly-drive-sleep behemoth that would take care of the major needs of travelers. With extraordinary prescience for the time he foresaw a future in which travel agent around the world perch in front of computer screens making reservations for his airline, his hotels, and his rental cars completely seamlessly.

In a two year span Ferris spent $2.3 billion in pursuit of his vision, acquiring Hertz Car Rental, Westin and Hilton International hotel chains. In February 1987 he changed the name of UAL Inc. to Allegis Corp. to reflect the broadened scope of his travel enterprise.

“We are a travel company, not just a transportation company”, he said. “The name change clearly identifies us as the only corporation that can offer travelers door-to-door service.”

Lippincott and Margulies, the firm that came up with the name, said Allegis “conveys the central corporate mission of service and guardianship … through its relation to the word allegiant, meaning loyal or faithful, and aegis, meaning protection and sponsorship.”

Ferris’s grand vision now had a name, and his many opponents on Wall Street had the weapon they needed. Investors were growing restless. The huge cost of putting the strategy in place became a drag on Allegis’s earnings and the stock price sank below the break-up value of the company. A disgruntled pilots union put together a bid to buy the company. Allegis was in play.

Investor discontent came into keen focus around the name change. Security analysts and institutional investors stared even harder at Ferris and his operation, which they thought was grossly undervalued. Shareholder Donald Trump, even then never lost for a pithy remark, said Allegis sounded like ”the next world-class disease.” It was merciless and unrelenting. The outfit ought to be called Egregious Corp., burbled the Wall Street wits.

It was all over by the following June, less than four months after the name change. Unnerved by the ridicule, Allegis directors finally bowed to pressure from dissident shareholders who threatened a proxy fight to replace the board. They forced Ferris to resign, symbolically changed the name back to UAL, and began to dismember the company.

Ferris’s arrogance had won him few friends on Wall Street along the way. But even his harshest critics conceded that his big-picture strategy might have been workable some day. They just were not willing to give Allegis the time it needed.

The power of a name to make abstract concepts real and focus emotion and Allegis’s ready accommodation to ridicule made it a lightening rod for dissident shareholders and unions. The naming of Allegis was the beginning of the end for Ferris.

Donald Trump acknowledged as much when told the New York Times how the name had affected him:

“The name change made me more militant as an investor and more willing to speak out against management, because I thought it was so wrong,” he said. ”And I think it had an important psychological role. It brought out even more anger at management and made a lot of people say they had finally had it.”

”A name change can be an incredibly powerful thing,” said naming expert S. B. Master. ”What you’ve been saying in annual reports and speeches suddenly becomes real when you change the name. Ferris’s idea finally got through.”

Joel Portugal, a principal at Anspach Grossman Portugal, perceptively put his finger on the real long-term damage: ”For the rest of my life, I expect to hear clients joke about Allegis,” he said at the time. ”They’ll say, ‘don’t give me an Allegis,’ or ‘don’t make an Allegis out of me.’ And beneath the joking there will be real fear.”

Fear there is. Allegis became a radioactive name and the fallout seeped into corporate boardrooms of America. It is there still. CEOs have a real fear of what they think of as ‘phony, made-up names’. Like Allegis.

Karl Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. If Allegis was the tragedy, then Consignia was the farce to prove his point.

Next: The savaging of Consignia and how it could have been avoided.


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:

Church of England to ‘rebrand’

1 Apr 2010
The Church of England is to launch a nationwide consultation on changing its name.The rebranding exercise, expected to take at least two years, and which will need to be approved by Parliament, follows widespread acknowledgement of the difficulties of continuing to claim to be The Church of England – rather than just one of the country’s denominations.

One is amused

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.

To Xfinity, and beyond: The new laws of naming

Newspapers and magazines love lists. They are easy copy, as they need little or no research apart from the elicitation of a few expert opinions on the subject in question. And readers love them, if only to disagree.

Time magazine has a whole section on its website devoted to Top 10 lists. It includes compulsively irrelevant topics such as the Top 10 Internet Blunders, and the Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hanukkah.

This week Time rushed out a list of the Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes in honor of Xfinity, the new name from Comcast, the cable company, for its service offerings.

In a rush to judgment Time put Xfinity at the top of the list that included Accenture, SyFy, Consignia, Xe, Altria, WWE, Spike TV, AirTran, and the Willis Tower.

It’s a curious list. The criteria seems to be that if a name change is in any way controversial, then it’s bad.

Take the Willis Tower in Chicago, for instance. It was the Sears Tower for decades, a famous Chicago landmark. Unfortunately, Sears is not the company it once was and the building has been acquired by Willis Group Holdings, a London-based insurance company. Willis, understandably, wants its own name on the building. It has upset Chicagoans no end, but all’s fair in love, war and naming rights. When it comes down to it, why is Sears a better a name for a building than Willis? Nothing more than familiarity and a large dose of sentiment, I would say.

The map of the world in my school atlas was mostly pink, denoting the reach of the British Empire. Back then, Mumbai was Bombay, Beijing was Peking and  Zimbabwe was Rhodesia. The world moves on. It disturbed me more when San Francisco’s legendary Candlestick Park became 3Com Park, which then became Monster Park before the city mandated that it shall be Candlestick Park for ever more.

Spike TV is on the list because Spike Lee claimed that people might connect the TV network with Spike Lee. He won an injunction to prevent The National Network changing its name to Spike TV. The case was settled soon after in the network’s favor. Case closed.

How does this minor spat warrant Spike TV’s inclusion on Time magazine’s Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes – because Spike Lee was upset?

The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) had to change its name to the World Wrestling Entertainment following a disagreement with the World Wildlife Fund, so WWF became WWE. What’s the problem?

Andersen Consulting was required to change its name as part of its acrimonious separation agreement with Arthur Andersen. Accenture is not a lovely name, to me it sounds like a sneeze, but to say it was “regarded as one of the worst rebrandings in corporate history” is stretching it just a bit. Accenture today is very successful, unlike its misbegotten counterpart at KPMG that became BearingPoint. It sank without trace and filed for bankruptcy in 2009. And not to forget PwC’s consulting arm, which was primped and dressed as ‘Monday’ by Wolff Olins before IBM came along to save the day. 

Consignia is rightly on the list. Its sin was not so much the name itself, as naff as it was, but the ineptitude with which the proposed change was handled. Renaming a British institution like the Royal Mail was always going to be highly controversial. Well, controversial it was. And the name became the focal point for torrent of fear and loathing that eventually sank it and the CEO of the company.

Consigned to the scrap heap

Which brings us to Xfinity, the name that clearly inspired Time’s hastily compiled list in the first place.  The negative energy around the introduction of Xfinity seems to be generated by a perception of poor service from Comcast.

William Lozito of Strategic Name Development says Comcast is “trying to put lipstick on a pig” by instituting a name change as a way to cover up service complaints.

But things are changing at Comcast. It recently acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal for $13.75 billion, giving it control of the Peacock network, an array of cable channels and a major movie studio. Advances in broadband digital technology also mean faster Internet speeds and more high-definition channels. The acquisition puts Comcast in the position of being both a content producer—through NBC and its subsidiaries—as well as a media distributor.

This is a long way from what the traditional cable company offered. As lazy and clichéd as the name Xfinity might be, it is the beginning of a campaign to convey this new world of myriad content and delivery quality, and change minds about what Comcast is. Whatever Xfinity may remind people of today, Comcast is going to spend a huge amount of money to get that brand to mean what it wants it to mean.

Today, naming is as much about PR strategy as it is about brand strategy. Accordingly, I offer these Seven New Laws of Naming:

1. All name changes of any consequence will be controversial.

2. Controversy is good for newspaper articles and circulation figures. There will always be people who don’t like a name change for whatever reason, and reporters will always find them for a quote. Be prepared.

4. New names will always remind people of something more familiar to begin with. They have to be given a context in which to understand the name.

5. People will get used to new names over time as long as they are free from negative connotations that can not be overcome (plain dumb names not withstanding).

6. Corporate name changes are politically charged. They have to be managed aggressively and proactively.

7. Social media is important. The urls, and are not available. Someone at Comcast is thinking ahead.