June 29, 2008

Name Dropping In Style

Thanks to the wheelings and dealings of commerce, it's not that unusual for a brand to change its name in order to meet corporate requirements in some way. Nor is it unusual for the name-change to be handled awkwardly, even ungraciously. Business-owners often show scant regard for the way in which we unconsciously register the names and other labels that help us make sense of the vast array of choice that's available to us across the board and blunder about insisting that we see the world their way (rather than ours).

I've written previously of the dog's dinner that's being made of the Campbell's / Erin Soup swap, whilst Halifax seemed to think that their changing-of-the-guard from Bank of Scotland, Ireland should be greeted with fireworks and street-party delight by the humble citizen-customer.

But I really like the way that Zurich has announced the change from Eagle Star to Zurich on posters across Ireland. I haven't been able to track down an image to show you what they've done but will add one to this post when I get the chance. The posters feature well-known personalities from various walks of life (such as Gordon D'Arcy, Samantha Mumba and Pete Postlethwaite) who tell us the different pet names and nicknames they've gone by in the past. The implication is clear and the point elegantly made: we most of us have introduced ourselves to others using different labels over the years depending on the context. Sometimes we outgrow a name, sometimes we only use it amongst close friends.

Over the years, I've variously been called Gerard (parents), Ger (close friends), Gouger (sister-in-law, then rest of family), Gau Jai (Hong Kong Police colleagues) and GT (business colleagues). I also, briefly and unwillingly, went by the name God at school (thanks to my very appealing habit of ordering team-mates around the football pitch rather than on account of any divine soccer skills).

The way in which Zurich has gone about it is really very attractive. They've neatly avoided any suggestion that the 'old' name, Eagle Star, is being abruptly terminated. Instead, they've invited us to get to know the business by it's new name whilst positioning the change in a way that makes great 'social' sense.

Of course, they stylishly imply, I don't introduce myself at a business meeting as either Gouger or God - so why should they?


hugh said...

You are spot on.

The Zurich campaign is spot on. Its amusing and relevant all at the same time. As you say we all have had different names along the way and yes we do out grow them, so to with brands - but trying telling the guys in Guinness or Microsoft that.

Currently working with a coffee chain and the issue of a name change is very current. Thanks for confirming what I suspected.

Aidan said...


I totally agree - Zurich has been stand out for name change but also in simple cut thru advertising