How (Not) To Name A Company In The Digital Era

How (Not) To Name A Company In The Digital Era

Tronc – How (Not) To Name A Company In The Digital Era by Knowledge@Wharton

Got game with your name?

In the digital era, executives are discovering that there is more at stake in selecting the right name for a company, product or service than in the pre-Internet era, but the path to follow is often laden with new rules that can make the task at hand more treacherous, say Wharton and other experts.

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Earlier this year, old media stalwart Tribune Publishing Co., owner of the venerable Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, stumbled badly when it renamed itself “tronc,” a short version of Tribune online content. The name change was supposed to represent the company’s shift to the high-growth online content business. But it attracted instant derision instead, with The Washington Post opining that “Tribune lost its mind.”

While Tribune recognized the need to get with the times and present a more modern image, its attempt to follow the new digital rules for branding while still honoring important aspects of the old rules was less than gracefully executed. At least, it understood that choosing the name of a company or product is becoming increasingly more critical. That’s because a company’s name is usually also its web address, so choosing a name people can remember should bring in more traffic — translating to higher revenues.

“Name selection is more important now than ever before,” says Alexandra Watkins, founder of brand consulting agency Eat My Words. “Your name has to work harder than it did 20 years ago.”

“Name selection is more important now than ever before. Your name has to work harder than it did 20 years ago.” –Alexandra Watkins

Driving the charge are shifts in technology and consumer habits. The ubiquitous presence of internet domain names and web addresses, or URLs, social media and the prevalent use of smartphones and tablets with their smaller screens call for new rules on how a company, product or service should select its name, marketing experts say.

“Yahoo! started this shift in early 2000