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What's in a name?
When it comes to purposefully naming things for commercial reasons, it pays to give it some serious thought. Don't get me wrong, I'd never suggest a carefully crafted name would suddenly help make fundamentally flawed products profitable. But by the same token, a well designed product with an ill-considered name could be disastrous.
Toyota had the foresight to name the French version of their MR2 the MR (go on, look it up) and Shirley Crabtree wisely decided his wrestling career might be more lucrative by adopting his now legendary stage name. Rest in peace Big Daddy.
Sometimes the look and feel of a product, what it does and how powerful the brand behind it is, negates the need to try too hard. So much so, its influence evolves into generic terms of reference that permeate unwittingly in our day to day lexicon: "Where's the Hoover?" "Pass me a Biro." "I'll Google it." "Please don't wear those Speedos."
Look at Apple's iPad, a product name consistent with the brand's genealogy, but one that, in isolation, sounds like a feminine hygiene product. Is Mr Jobs bothered? Probably not, it sold two million in the first two months. Period.
But what of the built environment? Building names are abundant and I know from personal experience that much time and effort can go into conjuring up tempting monikers for places. There's a point at which an address becomes more than just a wayfinder, so when a product requires more than street name convention, it's time to engage the right side the brain.
Urban Splash is pre-eminent for it, blending product and identity perfectly; Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia certainly get my vote. Conversely, it's a shame X-Leisure haven't been able to do buildings like the Great Northern justice, by helping turn the product offering into something actually worthy of its name and monolithic stature.
When it comes to destination marketing, we've got some great examples on our doorstep that balance great architecture with satisfying identities that really work, always pointing to something of genuine relevance.
Personally, I love the bold simplicity of Media City; it says everything you need to know about a place that doesn't quite exist yet, whilst conjuring up stirring images of what business might be like there. Conversely, Manchester's newest branded 'destination' Corridor Manchester does exactly the opposite. If there was ever a name for a location that engendered such an apathetic emotional response, this is it. Not so much somewhere you to travel to, rather something you travel through.
Names are essential, but their benefit runs much deeper than mere identification. They tell you things you need to know without actually seeing them and can help shape your perception before you even come into contact with it, him, her or there. Clearly, the success of a product or place is dependent on its efficacy, value and relevance to the market it's intended to serve, but making sure it's got a decent name isn't a bad start.
And today is monday, Matthew. …
I'm not really sure what this feature sets out to achieve? Is it 1. Matt Leigh is a very clever chap, or 2. Good names help sell things. Please let me know. …