Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Compulsive Naming Syndrome



Compulsive Naming Syndrome is more common than one might think. When I was at Hallmark, in part because we had more than seven hundred writers and artists and tens of thousands of skus, but not just because of that, people were creating named product lines, services, programs and promotions almost weekly. But Hallmark is not the only organization that suffers from this malady. Organizations often hire me because their product, service or program naming has gotten out of control. I recall helping one organization whose employees were creating named brands for employee picnics and bowling tournaments. And I remember standing in a very large room with McKesson's hundred or so marketing directors and walls plastered ceiling to floor with names, logos and taglines - hundreds, if not thousands of them. 

Another company called on me to simplify their brand architecture that had grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions over time, so much so that identical individual products were offered under dozens of different brand names in separate product catalogs, creating much confusion for their customers. 

Frankly, even I am guilty of this. My brands include this blog, Branding Strategy Source, my book, Brand Aid, my company, BrandForward and even my personal brand, Brad VanAuken. Would it be better to focus on fewer brands? Probably. 

Going back to the Hallmark example, as the company's chief brand advocate, I commissioned market research that ultimately showed that the average social expression consumer was not aware of any of our brands except for Hallmark and Shoebox. There was significant effort going into creating names and identities that never broke through the clutter of the myriad of brands that people are exposed to daily. When it comes to brands and names, less is more. 

So please think about it. Do you or does your organization suffer from Compulsive Naming Syndrome? If so, there is a cure - brand rationalization followed by abstinence. 

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