What’s in a name? With the well-known phrase out of Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet the English novelist meant to indicate that one should not put too much value in a name. Had the playwright lived in this present day and era, I bet he would have changed his mind. A good brand name carries far more weight than you might think. Think Shell, Google, IKEA, Coca Cola and Alibaba and you have an association straight away – be it positive or negative. The ‘N’ word is banned in some cities in the US and ‘frog’ is quite an unpleasant word for a French citizen.
Too often, naming is an informal exercise. Start-up founders who spend months meticulously developing products have been known to go with a name that just feels good, without bothering to examine cultural contexts, competitive landscapes, or even simple pronunciation. Butcher Funeral Home (yes it existed…) isn’t a pretty good choice. Cadabra had to change its name to Amazon as the name was often misheard as Cadaver.
China disliked the name Wuhan virus as it clearly indicates that the outbreak began in Wuhan so they executed some pressure on the World Health Organization to have it renamed to COVID-19.
The coronavirus is having an enormous impact for lots of industries, the travel industry being one of them. Airlines, cruise companies, hotels, tour operators, none of them are to blame for the crisis they find themselves in but the enormous attention COVID-19 is getting in press worldwide has a tremendous effect on consumer behaviour. Holland America Line cruiseship The Westerdam for a few weeks was the centre of attention when not ne country in Asia allowed it to berth because of suspected corona passengers on board.
Have HAL and De Westerdam become tainted names now? And what about their slogan ‘Why Not Now?’… not a very appropriate one in view of the corona crisis. And what about the troubled Boeing 737 MAX airlines? The planes have been grounded since March 2019 so once they will be allowed to fly again will passengers be happy to step on board a MAX plane… I doubt it.
A good brand name with a positive image is vital. Ghana once had a fizzy drink called ‘Pee Cola’. It didn’t sell well.