I am not an expert in naming, though I have participated as a writer on several naming projects for both companies and products. However, two announcements this week got me thinking a bit about how names impact the story you tell your customers (intentionally or not).
The first is the announcement of the new Houston professional soccer team, the "1836". Great story-related name, harking back to the founding of Houston by two brothers in 1836. Sort of like the 49ers, and the 76ers. Only there's a lot more to the story than that. 1836 also happens to be a year that lives in infamy among the franchise's Latino consumers. Read it here. From the article:
"Clearly, not enough homework was put into this," said Paco Bendaña, a prominent Houston-based authority on marketing to Latinos. "Historically speaking, 1836 is not something we celebrate."
And it's not a story the soccer team wants to tell either. It will be interesting to see what happens with this.
The second is the merger and renaming of the WB and UPN networks into the "CW." I may be wrong, but I can't imagine why this is a good name. What does it stand for? Conventional Wisdom? Not likely. How about creatively wretched? Or Chris [Rock] and Wrestling. Or Cat World. The CW doesn't strike me as a brand name you can build a compelling story around. But then again, there aren't many broadcaster brands with a great story (HBO and PBS are exceptions), so maybe it's not a requirement. My guess is most viewers will continue to ignore the new network as easily as they did the old ones.
Last word on naming. This didn't happen this week, but it's a reminder of the implications of naming products for markets you are not familiar with. Go here, and scroll down to #93. Very bad for business. But it does make for a good story.