When the brand just doesn’t add up

I recently had my attention drawn to a rebrand of a smallish City-based financial IT company. It has expanded quite quickly over the past few years and has undergone some radical reorganisation and so – probably rightly – decided the time had come for a fresh lick of paint on the brand to make these changes evident to the outside world.

So, out goes the old name – Mondas – and in comes a new one – Corero. Sorry, corero (lower case). Can you see what they’ve done there? They’ve replaced one name that doesn’t really mean anything, with another name that doesn’t really mean anything.

Mondas sounds fine to me. In fact, it sounds like something to do with ‘the world’ – le monde, el mundo, il mondo, all from Latin mundus – which, given that its reorganisation involves consolidation of separate business units and geographical expansion sounds about right for the new company. Corero – sorry, corero – sounds like something fast and lightweight maybe – like ‘corrida’ or ‘career’, from the Latin currere – but essentially it means nothing. It smacks of the awful trend some time ago of names that meant nothing but sounded clever, like Consignia (Royal Mail) and Accenture (Arthur Anderson).

Also, the original name was out there and everyone knew it, so now they have the pallaver of telling everyone they’ve changed their names. Imagine I changed my name to, oh I don’t know, Roderick. It would seem strange at first. You wouldn’t be able to think of me as a Roderick. I would have to keep telling you, “Don’t call me Darling, call me Roderick.”

That’s the name. It’s only one small part of the whole company philosophy called ‘the brand’. A good example of what ‘brand’ really means is the recent takeover of Telewest/NTL by Virgin Media. The deal was struck many months ago but Virgin has been putting in place better customer service because its brand values demand it. Everything Virgin touches acquires the brand value of good customer service.

So the real trick lies in making this brand apparent both within the company and to the external world, and making it consistent. Which brings me back to Corero – sorry, corero – which has a luverly new home page with fancypants graphics and a nice movie that is a shade too long. The movie goes on about fresh ways of thinking and all that bollocks. It’s quite nice, I watch it till the end, and I’m almost prepared to ‘believe’. Perhaps Corero – sorry, corero – isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Then I read the copy on the home page. Here’s an extract:

“The above developments have altered the business considerably and the Board believes that to recognise these changes and to reposition the Company for the next phase of its development the name of the Company should be changed. Accordingly, the Board proposes that the name of the Company be changed to corero plc.In order to action the change of name a special resolution must be passed at a general meeting of the Company and accordingly an Extraordinary General Meeting will be convened to be held in February 2007, details of which will be posted shortly.”

Suddenly, everything falls flat on its face. Disbelief is no longer suspended. The company isn’t brand new. The company doesn’t adopt a fresh approach. It isn’t a new way of thinking. If this were the case, it would reword this turgid legalese into something that actually makes sense and excites people. You can do that, you know. Just because something’s complicated and legal doesn’t mean you have to make it sound complicated and legal.

I hope the rebrand works. But first, whoever’s in charge of it needs to make sure that everything – everything – is informed by it. Graphics, copy, the way people do business, the way it’s perceived internally and externally. Everything.

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3 thoughts on “When the brand just doesn’t add up

  1. Why doesn’t the chancellor create a tax on companies who change their name? It could be as little as 1p for each use, so 1p per letterhead 1p per website hit etc etc all proceeds to Comic Relief of course. It would save us all that hard work of updating our databases, mobile phones etc for what is quite patently a pointless excercise.

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