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What’s in a name? It’s so much more than a collection of letters. It is a signifier, an identifier, occupying space in the mind and in the heart. A name makes us unique and distinctive, it defines us against others and says who we are. Our names give us a voice and assert our identity. The name of a brand is no different, acting not only as a reference point but something with which we identify, form a loyalty to and place a sense of value. A strong brand name should create a connection, a lasting association and a feeling of love.
So when Olaf Swantee—the Chief Executive of Everything Everywhere, the newly merged brand from Orange and T-Mobile —commented that the new brand name referenced neither organisation and described it as “silly”, the issue of names and mergers once again becomes a pertinent topic of discussion.
Pic. Everything Everywhere logo.
Following brand mergers, the requirements of stakeholders must be met, teams and technologies are combined whilst multiple values, beliefs and cultures must be integrated. It comes to the brand name to encompass everything positive and progressive about the new organisation. All too frequently, merging has been translated into mixing. The brand names of ABInBev, PriceWaterhouseCooper, JP MorganChase, ExxonMobil and Sanofi Aventis are a few in the long list of unwieldy combinations. The amalgamation of Yola and Coplait into Yoplait, and United and Continental Airlines into United Airlines seems to lack inspiration and the spirit of innovation. Simply inserting one name into another does not work. The result is often clumsy, cumbersome and forgettable and an attempt to retain the legacy of two brands will only demote the value and equity of both.
A merger relates to the future and there is no point in looking backwards or attempting to simply combine two entities that may only be superficially related. Whilst the Orange division will retain its focus on the entertainment industry and the T-Mobile branch will continue to concentrate on social media networks, both organisations will work cohesively under one new name. The Everything Everywhere name is not “silly” at all; rather than weighting one name over the other, it is a bold move that anticipates and looks forward to the new brand’s freshness and innovation. This name represents the purpose and motivation of the new organisation: the connection of all online devices (everything) across every location (everywhere). Although Swantee may have initial reservations, other heads of the organisation seem more positive, with Vice President of Retail Andrew Coull commenting recently that the name had significant purchase and potential: “I really believe we can get traction from this”. The name asserts the practicalities of the organisation whilst representing the confidence and vision of its future.
A new name should signal positivity and the beginning of a successful partnership. Expanding, looking forward and innovating with vision and endurance, a new brand name must have greater substance and meaning than the sum of its original parts. There are many examples where brand merging has brought successful invention and creation. In one of the largest mergers in American history, Bell Atlantic joined with GTE to rename as Verizon, the globally operating broadband and telecommunications company. Gulf and Standard became Chevron, a leader of the energy industry united under a name that symbolises direction, purpose and movement. AeroLloyd and Junkers combined to rebrand as Lufthansa, derived from luft the German for ‘air’ and hansa in reference to the Hanseatic League, the medieval Northern European trading empire. It is clear to see that creating a new, confident and progressive name represents the worth and credibility of the merger.
So rather than concentrating on branding the two entities that are combining, we need to concentrate instead on the new entity that is being created. It is this brand new creation that must be given a name of impact, potential and meaning. A new brand name is a powerful instrument, a tool that has the chance to express something exciting and inspiring and a link that will form connections of depth and substance. Merging brands must take this opportunity to express their new selves through a name of individuality and innovation, positivity and creation. The focus must be not on what has been before but on the bright future of what is to come.
About the Author
Darren Foley, Managing Director at Pearlfisher, London, joined the company in 2002 as Realisation Director, inventing the concept of realisation and advocating a design process in which our technical and creative teams work in harmony from the beginning. He has worked in the design industry for close to 25 years, starting out as a junior production artist, and amassing an unparalleled depth of knowledge for the discipline.