Getting MADD

[Cache – #37]

I’ve often railed against initial names for several reasons, first among them that they dull or eliminate a brand’s meaning. But a fine exception is MADD – again the go-to resource for statistics and comment in the wake of Jack Tobin’s three-year sentence in the death of his friend. As but a tiny number of brands in this world are instantly and alone identified with their category, MADD is the only organization synonymous with the cause of combating drunk driving.

The power of its name is arguably the most important factor behind that remarkable accomplishment. It’s a great name because it’s the perfect alignment of organizational purpose and expression – in that it so memorably conveys the unimpeachable right of mothers, first and before anyone else, to be angry about their children being killed by someone driving drunk.

But has the MADD name ultimately been successful? Has the name helped the relentlessly-campaigning organization actually reduce the number of people so senselessly killed?

MADD’s own stats tell the story: in 2008, 1,162 Canadians died in alcohol-related car crashes. In 1999, the number was 1,247. I’m sure that MADD would be the first to concede those numbers don’t add up to a meaningful change in driver behaviour.

In light of their ratio of brand awareness to the shaping of target market behaviour, for MADD it’s a troubling thought.

I want to be very careful here not to give the impression that I am exploiting the drunk-driving tragedy to generate more naming business.  Go to whomever you wish for naming services.  Even then, we as namers are “not curing cancer,” so to speak, and we are not about to single-handedly solve the drunk-driving problem – our work is not that important.  Yet I know that many organizations take their work and mission very seriously.  This is just a reminder that for them, their naming and larger branding efforts must be good, very good, to make a difference.

Best brand names of the week!


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Friday August 26

Friday August 17



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