October 26, 2016

Go away for a few weeks and brand havoc is sure to rear its head in this industry. With all the M&A, consolidation, roll-ups, and PE firms in the mix, names seem to change about every week or so. The week of Outsell’s Signature Event, ThomsonReuters Intellectual Property & Science (a mouthful for sure) announced the completion of its sale and with it the requisite name change: Clarivate Analytics. Ok, I get Clarify, or Clarity, and Innovation breeding to make Clarivate. It wouldn’t be my favorite name but I can see the logic given what TR IP & Science does. But adding Analytics seems throwaway, like someone in marketing decided that the word analytics, platform, big data, or something ‘hot’ needed to be in the mix. But seasons change in this industry and so do passing fancies and it’s never a good idea to tie your corporate name to them. And furthermore, analytics are a given in this day and age and there is simply no need to add it onto a company name and bring more syllables to the fray. Nonsense.

Clarivate Analytics

My rule of thumb. One syllable. Maybe two, if an acronym or a single word, MAYBE three. Think IBM, CEB or Oracle here. But good brands are built on simplicity, being memorable, being repeatable and the best firms do it by keeping it simple. Gartner. Salesforce, Bloomberg, Verisk, Moody’s, Google, Apple, Facebook, Oprah. Even Truven or Cengage aren’t so bad, although I’m not sure what is up with their names sounding a bit like new drugs. There’s been a few too many of those. Maybe big pharma has secretly invaded the marketing world by coming up with this stuff. But hey, they follow my rule of two so I won’t quibble.

But seriously, S&P Capital IQ or Bombora, or RELX (2 syllables but too many ways to pronounce it another no-no), or this new announcement from Clarivate Analytics - they are doing our industry no favors. From where I sit, if companies are paying big money for this kind of ’rebranding' the output is not showing that great a return. So remember, keep it simple, no more than two or three syllables and always, always use the corporate brand before any reference to products. Gartner’s IT Symposium, Bloomberg Law, Apple iTunes, Salesforce's Data.com, Outsell’s Signature Event. Whatever it is make sure the corporate name is the repeated name and product names always follow. To our friends at Clarivate (see I already dropped the Analytics) we love what you do, we just don’t like your new name and wish you’d have called us first.

Ok folks, it’s time to go on a branding diet in this industry. We are getting much too clever for our own good and coming up with silly names in the process. Let’s simplify. One or two syllables max and drop the litany of product names that dilute focus without a corporate brand to hang them off. I get that it might be different for media properties – but even then the corporate name can’t hurt if it’s good, simple, memorable and repeatable. Remember – good, simple, memorable, repeatable. I might have to come up with a single syllable acronym for that. Happy Branding. 

Comments

I couldn't agree more Anthea, the problem is in the boardroom. My best guess would be that the branding agency put forward Clarivate (urgh!) and the board added the Analytics as they lack the foresight and confidence to go with a single name brand. I would also guess that in a few years the Analytics element will be dropped as it may be to limiting or just not used. It's worth remembering it was Apple Computer Company when first registered!

Good to hear from you Graham. I couldn't agree more. Good reminder on Apple Computer. I'd forgotten about those days - remember Digital Equipment Corp went to DEC and then disappeared? But I digress. Corporate Executive Board went to CEB because they realized that's what everyone called them. I'm sure after Clarivate gets called just that a gazillion times they'll evolve in a similar direction. We'll see. Meanwhile I'm sure more branding fun awaits our industry. I can hardly wait for the next announcement. Stay tuned......

Awhile back Fortune had 10 easy steps for corporate naming conventions, including "don't be quirky." I guess nobody in the "Google" C-suite read that article. Some names just seem to work and they break all the rules. I've seen tv ads where I remember something funny that was said or done but I can't remember the brand of product that was being advertised. When I saw Clarivate Analytics, the name didn't really bother me. The p.e. investment there seems to be to transform WoS info into a data company and IP data (Derwent WPI) into analytics companies that will probably use machines with AI to create new inventions and then the p.e. firm can resell all of that at a profit, which is, after all, their raison d'etre. Since we are in the transformational stage between recreation and final sell-off of these products, you'll probably get your wish to see other names at some point in the process, and they might even be pronounceable.

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