A Burj by any other name...

With new hospitality products of all shapes and sizes hitting the ‘shelves’ of Arabia, self-confessed brand addict, Naseem Javad, cautions that the name of the game is – the name! Javad is one of the hard talkers at this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, but spoke to TTN first
Would the Burj Al Arab work if it was called something else?

Globally, every hour, around the clock, seven days a week, a major corporation is forced to change its brand name. Sometimes, it’s good news, a new adventure is in the air.

Most times, it’s not. Name becomes a big liability when injured in a trademark battle, or simply put, no longer capable of ringing cash registers With 41 new hotels scheduled to open in the UAE alone by 2009, on average that makes 41 news spas, 410 new bars or eateries, and at least 30 new kids’ clubs.
So, what will make one stand out from the other and stand that test of time – and competition?
“The most critical missing link in today’s branding is the name,” says Javad. “Get the name right and the rest will follow. Get it wrong and you will have a hard time reversing the trend!”
Why should Jumeirah work in the USA? Will rings those bells for the Sudanese? What does the Bulgari or Armani mean to hotels?
Here are seven reasons why Javad says hoteliers need to think carefully when you think brand name:

One: Name is similar or identical to thousands of others.
When a brand name is heavily diluted and shared by hundreds or thousands of others in all kinds of businesses, then a name is simply lost in the crowd. Also, when a name is a borrowed word from a dictionary, making it a part of everyday lingo, it never achieves any distinction and despite extraordinary expenses in advertising and promotion, it simply dies out of exhaustion. Open any old business magazine and it will unfold like a cemetery of dead brand names.

Two: Name is too old to convey today's dynamics.
Established as a great icon of a period, sometimes a name crawls out of history, reflecting the great human toil by the founding fathers but somehow not suitable for the current agile, cybernauts and the digital savvy human force of today. The name is cumbersome in facing an explosive future. Expensive advertising and corporate communications constantly struggles to shed the old image by promoting the future vision of the brand and tries hard to appear younger and futuristic.
Three: The spelling of a name requires a higher IQ.
A large majority of brand names are spelled creatively to fit a logo or to avoid a serious trademark problem. Here, common sense and the science of business nomenclature are abused at the risk of being too sexy and different. This twisted spelling only ensures obscurity. The mind continually rejects the corruption of a familiar word and refuses to remember specific alpha structures. After all, if a name can be spelled in four different ways, then you will only end up with 25 per cent of the hits and profits. This type of creativity doesn't help. These sparks of geniuses only end up kindling fires, which eventually cause serious damage.

Four: More money is spent in explaining the origin of a name.
If a name cannot simply relate to the business and requires constant explanation of its obscure, yet cute, origin and how it fits overall to the business, then it becomes a daily routine for advertising to educate the universe of this dysfunctionality. The poor consumer, the lost end-user, and the over-burdened population of the world at large, doesn't really care what the name means to a corporation, rather simply what it means to them. Corporations and ad agencies thrive on getting awards for their creative efforts and advertising gimmicks for pushing their side of the story, while the consumer simply shuts off.

Five: Corporation does not own a trademark with an identical dotcom.
When a corporation does not legally own a brand name then what's the point of the exercise? Why bother at all? Every time your name is advertised it simply helps the industry at large and your competitors. Also, you don't build any brand values or equities and your entire advertising and marketing dollar is wasted. Today, a large majority of brand names are not trademarkable globally and most do not have an identical dotcom domain.

Six: Name is embarrassing in certain countries.
Globalization is a fact of life. A name must work like a marketing weapon, not only in it's own country but also around the globe. There is no need to hide under the desk because the name is embarrassing or profane in a foreign language. A large majority of names today do not work efficiently on the international scene and cause an ongoing stress in gaining recognition on the international scene.

Seven: Name is too long, too difficult, too confusing, too complicated or too boring.
When a name is too long it gets initialized. This unwanted process changes the entire meaning and lists the name in strange categories. When a name is too difficult, confusing or boring it becomes a different animal to different people. Strange name combinations, due to M&A, end up telling more than one story and causes confusion in the market place. Weird terminologies, alphanumeric structures, using upper or lower cases, dashes or slashes and other dingbat characters in a name will only ensure its self-destruction.

Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo, Catch a Name by the Toe:
Never, never, pick a name out of a hat. It's a bad thing. If your naming challenge simply ends up in a hit or miss process, then you are definitely not going forward. Remember, picking names out of a hat can also happen more than once. One, when you and your staff or any big agency to pool up a large list of names and pick one out of sheer desperation. Normally, this type of panic selection is done one day before the press conference. The proof of embarrassing name announcements covers most centerfold ads.

Myths, Facts and Rules:
“We are out of names” is only a myth successfully established by advertising and logo shops. Thus leaving the clients with strange, weird, and often silly, names.
Contrary to belief, there is no shortage of unique, powerful, one-of-a-kind, trademarkable, corporate names. What is short is successful, proven methodologies and highly reputable professionals with successful track records. 
Naming is a serious black and white exercise and it should never be confused with colour, design, logos and branding campaigns, which only become important after a name has been selected under the professional guidance of a master naming architect.

(The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2007 (AHIC), runs from April 28 to 30 under the theme ‘Global Aspirations’ at the Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre, Dubai. More information is available at