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Brand labels: Nailing it by naming it

March 16, 2013

Name changes in business is a business by itself and a fairly large one at that.  From individual celebrities like Swag who changes names almost every year to those taking one on for a new role as is the case with the new Pope, the bug to switch monikers indiscriminate in whom it bites and is driven by a range of considerations that afflict both individuals and businesses, with vast amounts spent on the latter.

The business reasons for doing so include the desire for a better image, brevity (easy to grasp and remember for customers) and uniqueness to name a few. Some corporate name changes seem almost capricious and intent on fixing what is not broken. That appears to be the case with Time Warner Cable's NY1 news channel soon to be known by an awkward collection of letters as TWC news.

Years ago Datsun changed its name to Nissan at a cost of over $50million when the former already had a positive image with consumers.  Others like Philip Morris moved to Altria to get away from the malodor associated with the old name while Marafuku to Nintendo and Backrub to Google seem obvious winners in retrospect.

The endless proliferation of new hotels in New York affords an opportunity for the brand name mandarins to bring their expertise to bear. But thus far the results have been mixed. Developers of the MAve Hotel ran a contest open to all for naming rights before settling on its calligraphically challenged sobriquet which, at least thus far, did little for its financial viability. The newest entrant to the burgeoning crop of independent hotels is the quizzically named Quin meant to capture the (Quin)tessence of the Big Apple.

New York's oldest (though not continually operating as it closed for renovations in 2011) is the Algonquin. It's many distinctions include the fact the name has remained the same since it opened in 1902.  That is not the case with most of New York's hotel with many changing their names over the years. The Manger Hotel moved through two names (the Taft and Parc-Fifty-One) before taking on its current name, The Michaelangelo.

Search engine optimization now drives the race to append geography to hotel names. The Sheraton New York recently adden on "Times Square" to its name given the lure of the world famous square to tourists.  Others on that bandwagon include the Westin New York at Times Square and the Intercontinental which does not even bother including "hotel" on its banner choosing to call itself as the New York at Times Square. A search on Google may not clearly reveal as to who is winning that race.

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