What you call you product or service can make a huge amount of difference

This week I received a note from a hotel group whose establishments I have visited a few times telling me that The Tamburlaine Hotel will henceforth be known as Clayton Hotel Cambridge.

And I thought “what a shame”.

I like the name Tamburlaine.  I like it because yes, I studied English Literature and so know the play “Tamburlaine the Great” and I rather like the notion of playwrights having dangerous beliefs and dangerous occupations.

But I guess the argument from the hotel group is that all the hotels in their group should be named uniformly, and anyway, the old name would mean nothing to people who didn’t have much of an interest in Elizabethan literature.

So what makes one name work and another sound false?

It is, of course, a matter of judgement and ultimately it becomes a matter of familiarity.  If you look around you can find (for example) desks on sale with names like Titan, Scholar Fully Welded, Karbon and Victoria Horseshoe.  I don’t know if all those names work, but immediately I find some more attractive than others.

Of course, I’m not privy to the information that would tell me how much each name has hindered or added to sales – but I suspect in many if not all cases, those naming desks knew exactly what they were doing for one simple reason.

If sales didn’t immediately go well, they’d change the name and change the advertisement.  If then sales still didn’t go well, they’d change the name again.

Occasionally I’ve had the chance to observe name changes and watch their effect, and it is always fascinating.

Way, way back in ancient times when promotions to schools were all sent through the post, the idea of companies coming together and putting their leaflets in one pack (thus saving hugely on postage) was known as Co-operative Mailings.

That name lasted a while but Shared Mailings proved much more attractive, and as the name change was effected it was interesting to see a number of companies that had never been interested in “Co-operative Mailings” willingly embrace “Shared Mailings”.

Of course, some names can be changed by competitors who invent derogatory names for products.  Advertising through the post for example was denigrated as Junk Mail, particularly by the newspaper and magazine industry which saw it as a challenge to their advertising revenue.  They were right to worry, but in the end their negative campaign failed completely.

Likewise advertising by email was for a long time denigrated as “junk email” or “spam” but in return companies involved in the business called it “Email Advertising,” and eventually that has held sway.

By and large you can name products pretty much anything, but unfortunately most attempts at re-naming are dealt with at the level of “I don’t like the sound of that,” where company owners choose names based on their own personal preference.

That can work, of course, but it does assume that one’s potential customers have exactly the same reaction to names as you do.  A little experimentation and research however can go a long way in situations like this.

And fortunately such experimentation can be very inexpensive.  The six email programme, for example, means that you can have six emails to primary school contacts for a total of £395 or six emails to secondary school contacts for £295.  I’m not saying you need to try six different names, but the service can be used to try out a couple of variations.

What’s more, apart from the VAT there is nothing more to pay – and you can vary the list you send to with each email.  Thus if buying into the primary school lists you might have the first email sent to headteachers, the second to deputy heads, and so on.

And in all cases you will get a statistical report showing what happened to the emails once they reached the schools.

For more information or to make a booking please do call 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk

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