Monday, July 20, 2009

What's in a Name? Almost Everything.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

- From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1594

I've decided to co-chair the annual stewardship campaign for my church. For those of you non-Episcopalians out there, stewardship is the word many of us church folks use to describe our "responsible use of and care for the gifts we are given in this life." The problem is that this word as defined above is too broad and confusing. Plus, it's often seen as a euphemism for another "bad" word - fundraising.

With this knowledge in mind, the first thing I've decided to do as co-chair is change the name of the campaign! So, rather than calling it the 2010 Good Shepherd Stewardship Campaign. (Yuck! Not compelling, clear or aspirational.) We're going to call it the 2010 Joyful Giving Campaign!

We take names and naming for granted. After all, what's in a name? Names are just window dressing, right? It's the substance underneath that matters. Sorry Juliet. You were right and wrong. While a name can't make or break your program - the work that you do also counts substantially. A name can make or break your opportunity to get noticed in the first place.

Whether you're launching a new organization, program or campaign, don't take names and naming lightly. They are a key to your success in the marketplace.

First and foremost, names should resonate with your audience and in this day of Search Engine Optimization, where Google is every one's first-stop shop for finding out everything about anything - names should also be intuitive.

OK, but what about Google or Bing or Twitter you say? What's so intuitive about these names?

Well, OK. If you've got the capital to create and launch a new brand then go for it! Create a remarkable/unusual name and then promote the hell out of it. But if you're like most nonprofits, you'll need your name to work for you on a meager budget. So choose wisely. Think about a name that describes both what you do and who you do it for. You'll thank yourself later.


P.S. For a laugh and some examples of BAD brand names, check out Fritinancy. For more on naming and branding, see Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki. For more on the importance of finding and using keywords to improve your success with Search Engine Optimization, see HubSpot.


Fritinancy said...

Excellent job on the name change: you've turned an obligation (stewardship) into an enticement (joy). And congratulations on having the courage to propose a change in the first place--not an easy thing for a nonprofit organization to consider.

P.S. Thanks for the link!

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