As you know, we’ve spun a lot of fabric over the last few years on the topic of brand and trademark truncation. Marketers seem to love the informality, emotionality, and efficiency of truncated brand names. I suppose trademark types love them too, since they can have the tendency to spin off a variety of
"The name is Bond, James Bond," said Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig, among others, countless times in film, as part of the famous 007 series. An ideal name for a secret agent. A name and line not easily forgotten, as brands and taglines should be.
And then, there are some names you’d like to forget, but can’t, especially if they are associated with personal injury lawyers, who probably "suk" even more than trademark lawyers (who merely have been dubbed the most basic figure), right?
Well, using Dan’s post from Friday, as a catapult (or, perhaps a hole-digger) for discussion, I’m thinking the jury is still out on 3 being the magic number, at least as it pertains to the 3 letters forming a rather rare surname (Suk) and the same number of words forming a curious (and hopefully misdescriptive) law firm name (Suk Law Firm), so, sorry Dan, I’m not sure there is any way to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this troubled tripartite branding combination:
Seeing the signage here, I’m thinking that any new or temporary receptionists at this law firm automatically require more intense phonetic training than your average law firm receptionist. In fact, this little gem (hat tip and photo credit to Max) probably rivals those spotted by Mark Prus in his recent guest post entitled: "Name Development Faux Pas, a.k.a. What Were They Thinking?!"
Ironically, the tagline for the Suk Law Firm is composed of these 3 words too: "Think About It."
So, I’m assuming they followed their own advice and did, but nevertheless, it probably came down the same way the Drury Inns name did, since the surnames in question no doubt have a great deal of goodwill associated with and emotional attachment to their founders. Might a naming consultant, nevertheless have said, forgetaboutit?
In any event, one of the things I’d be inclined to think about is how the brand name might sound when spoken, especially in a world where word-of-mouth marketing is key, and also how it might be perceived by those in the relevant public, given the possible truncation from its four-letter cousin. Apparently Suk, when the surname meaning is intended, sounds like "cook" or "book," not "pluck" or "stuck." Oh, the things phonetic punctuation symbols can and should be used to do, to help guide the intended meaning by signaling long and short vowel sounds!
On a related note, it reminds me of the unintended meanings that can result when critical spacing is omitted, as was the case, between the branded words "LA MER" to yield LAMER.
Although mispronouncing the Suk surname may be bad enough, when one examines the derivation of the name, it doesn’t appear to improve much on the meaning front either, since Suk apparently is not only a nickname for a "powerful, unyielding man," but also a "stubborn, awkward one". Hmmm, it’s all beginning to make sense now.
For those with any modicum of lingering interest, the Trademark Office’s treatment of SUK appears below the jump.
I know – a catchy title for a blog, eh? It’s actually the title of a treatise by Erasmus of Rotterdam, and no, he wasn’t the Wharton grad behind the recent boom in Netherlands-based financing. Sounds like it can’t possibly have anything to do with business, after all business doesn’t appreciate folly, which by definition is:
1 : lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
2 a : criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct b obsolete : evil, wickedness; especially : lewd behavior
3 : a foolish act or idea
4 : an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking
From the Middle English folie, from Anglo-French, from fol fool.
If I was indeed praising folly, definitions 1, 3 and 4 would be red flags for those readers who come to this esteemed blog seeking tips that will ultimately make them more successful business people. Right? Isn’t that your goal, at least from 9 to 5 or whatever workaday parameters your particular career may dictate? Because if it isn’t business information-driven, it’s entertainment or some esoteric thing, and dude, there are only so many hours in a day.
Well, as Einstein said, you have all the time that there is. But then again, he never read Drucker. And what I intend to discuss, or at least rant about, is not truly folly. It may very well be treated as folly by many in the business and attendant financial communities, but it’s not truly folly. Its value may often be neglected by the majority of marketers (although never the big dogs), but it is not actually folly per se.
It is the acknowledgement that between the light-speed rapidity of technological advancement and the analytical, logic-driven business school culture of the Information Age, an unhealthy and profoundly limiting paradigm has now become dangerously obsolete, but is still being worshipped: I call it the Left Brain Only model.
In the Left Brain Only business world, all that matters are analytics, number crunching, logic systems and hard data.
It’s a dilemma: the economy is in the toilet, panic sets in, and long–range planning gives way to short-term thinking. It’s completely rational and logical, of course, and that just makes it worse. Now managers who should really know better are merely looking to the end of the quarter – or next quarter at best – and holding their breath instead of keeping their eyes on the big picture. Truth is no one upstairs wants them to look at the big picture right now – they just want company in their crowded Chicken Little suites.
Despite the vagaries of economic conditions new brands will always require sturdy foundations of rigorous, disciplined construction, and that takes time and money. To develop and launch a healthy, connective and authentic brand considerable groundwork must be done in advance; what any branding expert worth their salt considers due diligence. I call it Forebranding™ – all the work that is done before that brand’s identity is manifested in visual and verbal identity.
A brand can be dumped into the marketplace with a casually developed visual and verbal identity wrapped around it. But if that identity isn’t based upon a relevant, authentic personality and truly reflective of the corporate culture behind it, consumers will ultimately smell a phony and not connect or remain connected.
WHY FOCUS ON CULTURE?