The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


When Does A Name Cease To Matter?
August 22, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So I was in HK last week and I saw an ad for the insurance company, Standard Life.

This is an organization that has been around for over 180 years and while having a ‘standard life’ was probably pretty aspirational to many people back then, has the advent of fame addiction [or should I say, infamy addiction], materialism and social climbing [at least from a monetary perspective] meant the brand has become inherently irrelevant to the masses … or is a name, simply a name and all these branding experts that recommend tens of millions of dollars should be spent on image and naming strategies talking out of their collective arse?

And if you say yes, does that mean you’d buy a house on Bland Avenue or Boring Lane?

I know there is no specific rule to all this, if there was then New York should just be called York by now … but that aside, do you think Standard Life have an issue – existing or potential – given their name seems to be the antithesis of what so many people want and seek from their life, even if for many, it might be much better than what they currently have.

And if not, why not? I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.


37 Comments

a standard life is fucking relative.

the end.

Comment by andy@cynic

so if its your foot loose and fucking fancy free life campbell with property empires (but no fucking queen albums) id consider it. if its billys bullshit bollocks with a 3 foot box for a home and your only friend is a wank and a bottle of jack id still consider it. fuck me, standard life has got it sorted.

Comment by andy@cynic

branding experts is an oxyfuckingmoron.

the end.

Comment by andy@cynic

a twat who would turn up at the opening of a pair of curtains, owns more pointless robots than fucking nasa and comes from nottingham writing about other fuckers fame addiction, materialism & social fucking climbing is fucking funny.

Comment by andy@cynic

“Grabbit and Scamper, Excellent Fixers of the Future”.

Comment by Chris

id call my fucker “end in tears”.

Comment by andy@cynic

“Cassandra Associates”

Comment by Chris

leper & no partners.

Comment by andy@cynic

The classic is engulf and devour…

Comment by Alex

oi planner boy have you considered standard life would appeal to those wealthy bastards who feel embarrassed about their cash so choose stuff that stops drawing attention to themselves? no i didnt either especially in hong billionaires on every fucking corner in their stretch fucking bentleys kong.

Comment by andy@cynic

The standard refers to a flag not an average. So you’re making a reasonable point based on a false assumption. What could brands learn from that?

Comment by John

were not all posh boys from south of fucking watford doddsy so if the fuckers mean something else with the word “standard” then they should fucking explain it. besides their real version makes them sound a bunch of fucking hooray henrys and id rather live in fucking nottingham than be one of those pimms drinking inbred fuckwit twats with names like quentin or fucking tarquin.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s what I thought – except that I don’t suppose any customers actually give the name a second’s consideration

Comment by John

campbell, why dont you test your theory by getting the swoosh boys to change their name to “fat fuckers fashion”. if theyre not top of the pile after a year, your bollocks theory was right. balls in your fucking court.

Comment by andy@cynic

I wholeheartedly agree with Andy. If it’s got a different meaning, then I didn’t realise and it’s painted an even weirder image in my head. And it’s all well and good saying a name doesn’t matter, but I don’t think many people would go to a bank called ‘Fuck You Peasant’ … then most banks seem to act that way even if they choose to be known by another name!

Comment by Rob

1) You think about these things, the vast majority of people don’t. Unless asked in focus groups.

2) Your bank example is deliberately extreme – nobody would call it that, and the only examples i can think of that are similar have been those cigarette launches with names like death – they make a PR splash and then vanish. Nobody else tries that tactic.

3) There are lots of naming myths out there – e.g. the Chevy Nova didn’t fail in spanish-speaking countries (where nova means no go), it actually sold quite well.

Comment by John

On the other hand, people like names that begin with the same letter as their names. But that’s a different point.

Comment by John

On the other hand, people prefer names that begin with the same latter as their own. But that’s different.

Comment by John

Any street where you live would be called bland or boring lane, officially or unofficially. Just saying.

Comment by DH

now thats fucking insight right fucking there.

Comment by andy@cynic

In which case the answer to his question is no-one would buy a house on those streets.

Comment by John

To be fair Rob, if a branding company used their proprietary tool on them today, they’d be known as amoeba or some other ambiguous term and as open to interpretation as Standard Life may be, it’s better than that.

Comment by Pete

Genius. And sadly true.

Comment by Rob

It’s nice to wake up and see a whole diatribe in flow … it warms the cockles of my heart, whatever they may be.

Comment by Rob

Doesn’t “Standard Life” sound institutional and therefore “a safe bet”?

Generally speaking, I don’t want the people handling my back-up money to have flair or style. I want them to be like the plumbing. Out of sight and always working?

I’ve always imagined that’s why most financial institutions go blue and white – calmness, clinical professionalism // over red or black – passion, risk?

Comment by Aditya

many brands would like to over promise sth, eg:KFC:A small coin; The biggest happy. it really makes people feel hollow and can’t imagine how an ice cream brings me to the happiest land. “Standard Life” sounds more real and reliable, especially for the insurance industry.

Comment by Thomas

What Pete said. Standard Life modernized itself with the gold triangle above “Life” in its logo, which could be improved. In the current climate of economic troubles, it would be a good idea to keep the name from the 19th century. That indicates to consumers that the company will continue as its long history has. When does a company’s name cease to matter? That is when its brand is stronger than its name. A standard is the ensign of a chief of state, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, so that connotation of prestige should be explained to Standard Life’s 21st century consumers.

Comment by Carol L. Weinfeld

Names don’t matter unless they’re extremely bad or extremely good and it’s a minuscule proportion of names that occupy those niches in my opinion.

As always, it’s the customers who determine the nature of the brand and what is actually important to them. Failing to recognise that is where so many businesses go wrong.

Comment by John

The bit that bothers me most is that a name means nothing unless a brand creates its context … so all these naming strategies often inherently flawed because they assume it will make all the difference when – as you point out – it’s a very small contribution to success, if any at all.

Comment by Rob

And it’s not just the marketing community that doesn’t realise that – many years ago a banker insisted to me that yahoo was winning the search engine battle because it had choisen the best name.

Comment by John

Well we all know what bankers know about business don’t we.

Comment by Rob

Your bankers certainly know a lot as Andy keeps reminding us.

Comment by John

his bankers know hes a fucking jammy bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Does it not imply a grounded, down to earth attitude that contrasts to the big branding styles of many similar companies? A sense that you can trust them – substance over style if you will…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

any fucker that chooses a company just because of their fucking name deserve to be shoved in a prison cell with bubba, the anus stretcher.

Comment by andy@cynic

I agree Andy, but as I was partially disagreeing with RobC I thought you would have been in support!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I think it really depends on the industry. Since most people probably don’t tell those around them about what insurance they have, they’re probably not too brand-conscious about it. Also, it seems that most people make insurance decisions based on the price structure and features of the plans, rather than the brand’s appeal. Compared to other things, I’d say buying insurance is a rather rational decision.

To me the “Standard Life” name sounds awfully bland, but if they had the right plan at a decent price I would still consider it —because it’s just insurance (especially if it’s life insurance). The marketing folks there could consider playing up the brand’s lengthy heritage and put a modern touch to it though. In an age where the middle class seems to be shrinking in proportion, I’m not sure what the “standard life” means anymore.

That said, I think branding/naming are much more important for brands and industries that sell high-visibility products/services.

Comment by n!k (@nQuo)




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