The more things change, the more they stay the same...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

I suspect with some certainty any Marketing Manager reading this will not think much of what I am about to say... with great certainty I know their inherent creativity will make for some wonderful refutation*. 

With that said, I was reminded the other day of something I experienced twenty years ago that reinforced the old adage:

"The more things change, the more they stay the same" 

And for that matter, this one as well,

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

And ultimately I was reminded of the diet soda TaB. 

Let me take you back a couple of decades in an attempt to weave this all together:

I found myself at the head office for a series of meetings that must have had something to do with marketing because that is what I was doing at the time. Although I can't tell you anything about those meetings, a meeting I was casually invited to as an after thought, is crystal clear.

I had been invited to a kick-off product development meeting that brought about ten people together (not including "onlookers between meetings") whose mandate was to develop products for a new market segment the company wanted to enter. The team lead had just finished introductions and strategic objectives when someone raised their hand and proposed the team should have a name. 

As if a flashpoint, I watched the room explode into debate, ideas regarding the name, and what the name should represent... most of the debate invoved how the name needed to represent the mandate of the team; the poor team lead struggled to control the room a couple of times as debate and opinion became intense. Forty-five minutes later, with the excuse of my next meeting, I bolted for the door. As the door shut behind me, the discussions raged with no team name in the foreseeable future.

I recall explaining my experience to a colleague and remember saying, "Who cares what the team name is... call it BOB for all it matters; just get on with things!" After that, we went into our own meeting ... I couldn't tell you if it was productive or not.

Fast forward, twenty years... 

I recently found myself talking to someone who was starting a new service company in a niche segment of an established market. The conversation quickly turned to naming the new company and the desire to have the company name "speak to what the company does".  All the obvious names or domain names had been taken, so an odd mashable exercise started to take hold as the "founder" was trying to put words together that were unique and represented what the company does (as well as make it sound viable) - The discussion went on, and on, and on.

                                 "The more things change, the more they stay the same" 

Ultimately I was asked what I thought and this is how I answered... 

  • I didn't think it was that important to have a company name that reflected what the company did. It is much more important to have a company name that is easy to say and easy to remember.
  • I mentioned not to overthink the name but overthink how you are going to make the name mean something.
  • I went on to suggest the work spent on developing the company's unique value proposition and communication to the market was really important... this would give meaning to the company name and what it did. 

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Ultimately I offered up the example of TaB**... probably the most "un-diet soda" name ever. Coca Cola took this simple, easy to say name and developed it to mean a "refreshing diet soda" to such a degree that TaB is still selling 50 years after it was first launched. 

In the end, the founder chose a three-word name for the company, registered it and is happy... not any closer to getting the name to mean anything but happy none the less. I don't even want to get into the discussion we had regarding the logo... let me just say we took the position "to agreed to disagree".

Let the refutations begin.


* Refutation is a new word for me so I just had to use it. It is defined as the action of proving a statement or theory to be wrong or false. 

** TaB's name it turns out was in part developed, by the IBM 1401 computer and  stylized from the "winning" name Taab.