What’s the best new name for Club Intrawest? I haven’t a clue, and you shouldn’t either.

[Cache #235]

By Andris Pone – President, Coin Branding

As part of naming or renaming your brand, should you ever have a survey or contest in which the public can suggest names and vote on them?

Some might expect me to answer my own question with a categorical “no,” because members of the public are not naming experts, and things can go horribly wrong.  After all, one of the problems with asking people for their opinion is that they’ll give it to you.  As evidence of this phenomenon in action, look no further than Boaty McBoatface, described by the New York Times as having far and away the most votes in an online solicitation by a British government agency to name a $287-million polar research ship.

Diamond Resorts International is another organization to recently solicit online suggestions as they rename a recent acquisition, Club Intrawest.  Diamond manages more than 350 vacation ownership resorts around the world; Club Intrawest is a timeshare vacation club with nine locations across North America.  Judging from a webpage that was active until approximately 1pm today (the survey ended at 1159am), Diamond emailed its customers last month to ask for suggestions on a new name for Club Intrawest, and received more than 1,500 submissions.

Here is the shortlist of five names that Diamond derived from those suggestions, and presented for vote:

The Alcove
Embarc
Captions
Traverse
Abound

Which one is the best?  I have no clue.  You shouldn’t either.  Not nearly enough information was provided to make such a decision.  Hopefully, Diamond did some considerably deeper thinking than evidenced in the brief written explanations to each name that were provided on the webpage.

But I still voted.  Twice, in fact.  For two different names.  And I did not even receive the original email, because I am not a Diamond or Club Intrawest customer.  And so it seems that anyone in the world was able to access the voting page.  I have no horse in this race, but you might surmise that Diamond’s competitors do.  How many, if any, votes did they cast?  Which should call to the attention of Diamond, which wisely is reserving the sole right to make the final decision, that their data may be suspect to say the least.

So here are some thoughts on why, and how, to run a survey in a way more likely to yield meaningful results.

Why:  
Because you want to generate awareness and excitement around your new name and brand.  Not because you expect to get a great name out of it.

How:
I use the word “great” with caution because the true objective of any naming process should not be to produce a great name per se, but rather, to arrive at a name that does the crucial jobs that all great names do.  It is against these jobs that you should frame up your naming contest/survey:  if you are going to run one, make sure you give your audience some tools to make helpful suggestions.  Here are the top five most important jobs:

TOP FIVE MOST IMPORTANT JOBS OF THE NAME
1.Be remark-able.
Great names are worthy of word-of-mouth.  People like to say them and talk about them.  Think Google and Kijiji.

2.Communicate the brand foundation.
What is the brand foundation – the core purpose, vision, mission, position, etc – of the former Club Intrawest?  From what I saw before the survey webpage was taken down, none of this was articulated.  The first rule of naming is that to name something, you have to know what it is.  And in this case, we do not know what “it” is.

3.Be distinct. 
Of the names on the Diamond shortlist, only Embarc, because it is a coined name in which the “k” has been changed to a “c,” might be considered distinct. Any time your name is a real word (think of Xerox as a totally made-up one) distinctiveness is going to be more of a challenge.

4.Be memorable.
Memorability is driven by factors including being short, easy to spell and say, and being meaningful.  Again, think about Google.  We are all biased because of our prodigious levels of exposure to this name, but how difficult was it to recall after hearing it for the first time?  It veritably glued itself in the grey matter.

5.Leverage an existing naming system, or create a new one
What other names does Diamond have in its portfolio?  Based on their survey webpage, we do not know.  Yet we want to know, because we want to add value to Diamond’s entire portfolio of names, and create a network effect in which every name makes every other name more valuable.  Think of the clever and funny names Ben & Jerry’s dreams up for its ice creams.  Monikers like Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and the Jimmy Fallon-themed The Tonight Dough perpetuate interest in their other flavours.  Just imagine if they named their next ice cream Chocolate.  Considered on its own, would that name inspire you to seek out the names of other flavours?

Obviously reserve the right to make the final decision and even ignore all suggestions, which naturally will be at your peril – but you’re the one who decided to ask for input.  (So you might, just maybe, want to kill the contest idea and retain a professional)

And finally:  know thy respondents.  Tightly control the voting process.  For example, you’ve got to be sure you know who’s casting votes, and how many times they are voting.  If it’s your competitors, or people who don’t really feel a stake in your brand, you’re really messing with your objective of flattering and bonding with your actual and potential audience – an objective that, in the context of a naming contest, should be your greatest hope.

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4 Responses to What’s the best new name for Club Intrawest? I haven’t a clue, and you shouldn’t either.

  1. Daryl Yeo says:

    Interesting commentary Andris, as I have been a happy member of Club Intrawest for the past 15 years and have been ruminating over the name options offered – and none of them blew me away! In fact, I do not see a natural relationship of the names to a time share organization, although the short descriptors that were provided attempt to provide a linkage.

    The sale of the management contract for Club Intrawest has been somewhat unsettling to its members as we all joined due to the first class image that the club portrayed, and the high quality vacation experiences that we sought, and received. There seems to be significant angst that the new managers may not retain the high standards that we have become accustomed to. So DRI has its work cut out for itself to ensure that the club retains its exclusivity and maintains its high standards of service. No doubt, very interesting challenges for the Board of Directors of Club Intrawest!!

    • Coin says:

      Darryl, you have brought to light that naming surveys/contests bring uncertainty and risk to organizations. Especially given the angst among members that you’ve described, it is a good question as to whether the board should have introduced more uncertainty by handling the renaming in this way.

      You have also raised in my mind the thought that a naming contest frankly does not come across as a luxury or high-end thing to do. It is a more populist initiative. One that in this case may be inconsistent with what you describe as a “first class” brand. Thus there is brand risk not just in opening the floodgates of opinion, but in the very act of holding a contest. Thanks and hope you are well – Andris.

      • Daryl Yeo says:

        Thanks Andris – I agree with your assessment. Will be interesting to see how they settle the re-naming as there will now be a member meeting to discuss the situation. I’m keeping well – still busy at ET with the usual fundraising challenges, but our membership is growing a lot, so that’s a good thing.

        Cheers

  2. Patricia Frawley says:

    Andris, interesting article. I’m one of many who does have a horse in this game and a game it is. When we purchased Club Intrawest points in 2006 if the word “timeshare” had been uttered we would have high tailed it out there. We like many members thought we were buying into an upscale club that used points so the flexibility was endless. For almost 10 years we have enjoyed the nicest of vacations at some really incredible accommodations using our points. Well those days have abruptly ended with the transfer of the management agreement from Intrawest Resort Club Group to Diamond Resorts International. The farce of a survey to rename the Club was just the first of many things going wrong. In the words of David Palmer CEO of Diamond at the last shareholders meeting “they are using their blocking and tackling techniques” on the new acquisition of Club Intrawest and it’s working! Well maybe not working completley. A grass roots attempt has been steadily growing with every stupid thing DRI does. Check out the FB site https://www.facebook.com/groups/clubintrawestowners/. We are growing daily. So far we have taken advantage of the election for two Board of Directors positions by placing 30 bogus bios (real people) with a vote strategically message and a tidbit about DRI in the Bio. Previous elections there might have been maybe 15 to 20 candidates. This call for candidates for the Board there were 101 candidate submissions well minus the 30 bogus so really 41 Hmmmm, why? Members are unhappy with what is going on. Through a very effective grass roots email campaign the members gathered enough votes to force DRI to hold a Special General Meeting which will be held in Vancouver, June 18th at the Sheraton Wall Centre….another victory for the members. Of course the agenda has no agenda item on it to reflect the reason why the SGM was called. It is a DRI marketing and sales agenda. Again the group submitted, as per by-laws, 3 resolutions to be added to the SGM. We succeeded in 2 of the 3 being added. Yahoo!!! To close on my little rant I’ll tell you what the outcome of the Board of Directors election will be. Voting closed on June 3rd, my prediction will be Trevor Bruno and Ron O’Gorman will be the two successful candidates and our “vote strategically” candidate Konrad Kawalec will be buried 5th or 6th. This will happen because of the unfair voting structure of timeshare organizations. DRI hold 250,256 unsold points, they get to vote on these two board positions 1 vote for each point, Members who hold 4,174,967 points have 1 vote for every 15 points. Do the math, ain’t going to work in Members favour. Wait till the SGM, same scenario. So you may wonder why a diverse group of people across Canada, US, UK and Australia are working so hard when there is no chance of a win. Well it all comes down to fairness, ethically business practices and just being treated with respect and honesty. None of this is going on right now but will fight to make a see change.,

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