Vox Pop

We’ve had Diageo and Corus. Now Lattice has joined the list of new ‘anonymous’ company names following changes at utilities provider BG Group. Do you think this approach works or should names have a closer connection to what a company actually does?

‘My first reaction may be, Lattice – what a funny name. But names seldom describe what a company does. Company and brand names are often based on owners’ names – I don’t suppose Paul Smith goes to work with his hammer and anvil often – but his worthy name has become a valuable asset. Strange, made-up names are a pragmatic way of solving the problems of naming merged companies and walking the tightrope of trademark and domain name registration. It’s much easier to get a registration on a non-descriptive, abstract name. I may not like the name, but it conjures up the right feelings and, crucially, I can use it legally.’

Kate Fishenden, Director of BrandExpression, Brand Guardians

‘The old attitude of “call it what you like and spend a fortune making it mean something to people” has had its day. It may still be possible for companies with small target audiences (like Diageo’s audience in the City), but not for utilities providers communicating to millions. In utilities, as in all corporate markets, a name needs to reflect your brand. The restrictions imposed by domain names has driven the rash of wacky names, but “uniqueness” is not the only function of a name. The rewards of investing in a name driven by brand strategy still outweighs any short-term registration gain.’

John McCarron, CreativeDirector, BGA

‘Made-up names often sound contrived and artificial, though rare exceptions like Psion (Potter Scientific Instruments Or Nothing) are endearingly idiosyncratic. With Lattice the difficulty lies less with the name than with a parent company which has diversified its assets, resulting in a confusing stable of names. However, this doesn’t mean companies are best named after what they do: Apple or Virgin, for instance, have broken the mould in their sectors.’

Mark Lee, Director, Watermark& Co

‘The best names are or become symbolic. Few names do all the work in isolation. Its too early to make flip tabloid judgements on whether Lattice works: the proof will be in the eating. Lattice prays the design gives it the strength it needs.’

Stuart MacKay, Partner, Ergo Identity Consultants

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