We can’t all be Waity Katy

[The Friday morning blog]

You never know what people are going to call you.  I knew a guy in university, perfectly smart, who somehow got the nickname Special Ed.  He can probably identify with Kate Middleton, who was presumably called Kate or Katy for 20-odd years, only to become Waity Katy upon dating Prince William, without a proposal, for a period deemed too long by the press.

Having become William’s fiancée last week, Kate’s nickname was surely set to dissolve.   She assured its obsolescence by announcing this week that her name henceforth is to be Catherine.  As has been pointed out, Waity Catherine doesn’t have quite the same ring.

If only change could be so easy for brands in the marketplace.  I’m sure JetBlue would like to rid itself of JetFU (as in “Jet Eff You”), awarded by the media when that flight attendant told off a passenger and hit the emergency slide with some brewskies.  Likewise Air Canada of Scare Canada (which I admit I’ve heard only once) and United of the anagrammatic www.untied.com, the website created by some very clever but quite disgruntled passengers.  And of course there is the time-honoured Terrorflot – distorted, deservingly, from Aeroflot.

In the realm of cars, Ford has long elicited nicknames derived from each letter of its name, as in Found On Road Dead and Fix Or Repair Daily (I once told this anecdote at a speech in Windsor, which you may not know is a big Ford town, and someone in the back gently suggested I be “strung up”).

When you are in the process of creating a brand name, you never know what people are going to call you.  But you can exercise caution in two key ways.  First, seek the opinions of people outside your working group.  They have an objective eye that can often see potential problems you cannot.  Second, once you have decided upon your name, live up to your brand promise.  It is the only way to protect yourself, no matter how vulnerable your name to wordplay.


Coming soon:  Best and Worst Brand Names of 2010

Recent blog posts:

Favourite restaurant names – https://coinbranding.com/favourite-restaurant-names

Public goes public – https://coinbranding.com/public-goes-public

A quick primer on naming – https://coinbranding.com/a-quick-primer-on-naming

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