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October 01, 2012

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose - Company Names!

I am reading a Classic book the 22 immutable laws of branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries, when I was stuck by a thought. ‘A rose is a rose is a rose’ said by Gertrude Stein as part of the 1913 poem Sacred Emily,. In marketing a name is everything. It is the soul and the identity of the company. Just consider.

Kodak the company that owned the space of Instant photography in the minds of the customer has fallen in bad ways. The naming of Kodak was very interesting. It is said that George Eastman researched the world to find a word that means nothing. Yes you have read it right. Kodak does not mean anything in any language. It is a totally neutral word with no negative connotations in any language.

One of the most intelligent and loyal breeds of dogs is the GSD - German Shepard Dog. So why is it called GSD? We have to go back to the Second World War II for the answer. After the second world everything German was hated. A breed named German shepherd dog was doomed. The German shepherd dog breeders did two things. They started calling the dog the Alsatian, and started putting the word GSD next to it. Thus the breed was being referred as Alsatian (GSD).  In India even today the short haired version of the German shepherd dog is called an Alsatian and the fully hairy version is the GSD or the German shepherd dog. Luckily the other top German dog breed has no such issues. Any guess about the breed – infallible and indomitable – Doberman Pincher.
Similarly Kentucky Fried Chicken shortened it name to KFC. Not only does it sound stylish but it also hides the dreaded five letter word that the Americans dislike FRIED. The Americans fed on the images of lean, trim and lean bodies knows that fried food is not good for health. But that is what made KFC famous in the first place. It was the juicy fried chicken. In the recent years KFC has realized its mistake. It is wooing the customer unabashedly flexing its USP its Fried chicken. There is even talk that the company is bringing back the name Kentucky Fried Chicken.
One company which was forced to shorten its name and got it right was 3M. Originally named Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company the name made no sense in the changed times. The company was in many businesses not connected to either Mining nor manufacturing. That is how Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company became 3M. 3M is known as innovation factory and is credited with winners like Post It stickers.
Heineken the world famous beer is from Netherlands. It is often mistaken as to being from Germany the country famous for beer. Heineken was lucky that the largest selling beer in Germany is Warsteiner. A German beer with the name War in its name is not going to be a big success in world market. Austria has an amino acid based, caffeine injected, carbonated drink called “Roter Stier”. A very difficult name for the customers to remember. The rechristened name was a marketing coup of sought – Red Bull. Red Bull has become a market leader in the energy drinks market.

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