Vox pop

As Six Continents reverts back to its original Mitchell & Butler moniker to avoid a made-up, meaningless corporate name (DW 13 February), have abstract names had their day?

As Six Continents reverts back to its original Mitchell & Butler moniker to avoid a made-up, meaningless corporate name (DW 13 February), have abstract names had their day? If so, why did they fail?

‘A name is an encapsulation of an organisation, product or service. If these are compromised, the name fails regardless of its composition. There are so many examples of successful abstracts that it would be foolhardy to suggest they’ve had their day.’

Ian Salisbury, Creative director, Novas

‘Businesses in the past have been seduced too easily by sexy new names and have thrown away a lot of the positive values associated with their old ones. It takes a long time to develop those positive attributes; after all, I wonder who would be brave enough now to propose names such as Birds Eye or Rentokil?’

John Bateson, Director, Roundel

‘It’s a broad statement to say that abstract names have had their day. If you allow the legal process to dictate your choice of name, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be abstract and unappealing. Good name creation is about having a clear idea of what your client stands for and where it wants to go. Then having a simple and relevant expression for this. Our industry and our clients should fight harder to get names that work, rather than relying on what looks easy to register.’

Mark Smith, Creative director, Innocence

‘I rather liked the name Six Continents. The problem is that it doesn’t give you a clue as to what it does. The trend now is to be blunter: Mitchell & Butler simply says pubs. Most companies, facing tough times, want you to at least know what business they’re in. Of course, a few, like Altria (aka Philip Morris), don’t, so corporate dog Latin isn’t quite dead.’

Robert Jones, Consultant director, Wolff Olins

‘The days when the word “apple” was just as likely to represent a corporation as a fruit are gone. Meaningless names are out of favour. For start-ups, abstract names can work, but for established companies they can be dangerous, suggesting to brand-aware consumers an attempt to revamp by papering over cracks. Put simply, it is back to basics. Forget the marketing jargon and intellectual hype – understandable simplicity is the way forward.’

Michael Peters, Chairman and managing director,

The Identica Partnership

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