For Companies, The Right Name Means a Lot

"The familiarity with Chrysler dropped because of Daimler being introduced," says Gregory. "If they had chosen 'Mercedes' I think the brand equity would have been higher."

But it's not just a familiar name that is at stake. Gregory estimates that a company's branding can affect its stock by 5 percent. He says it can take anywhere between three and five years before a company gets a return on its investment in a brand name.

Blue Monday

These days, PWC Consulting's new Monday title is causing more than one brand expert to raise their eyebrows in puzzlement.

The company's Web site proudly announces that "Monday is a fresh start, a positive attitude, part of everyone's life. Monday is a real name universally understood and easy to remember. Monday is confident. It stands out and it stands for something."

Too bad the only thing Monday stands for in most people's minds is the beginning of a week full of toil and drudgery.

"Monday is not everyone's favorite day," says Kevin Keller, the E.B. Osborn professor of marketing at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business in Hanover, N.H. "It's just an odd choice."

"They're initially going to have an uphill battle in terms of building favorable perceptions of that name," agrees Shore. "They're going to have to put a lot of resources against it and really deliver in turning Monday into something that's positive."

While Monday might seem like a strange choice for a company, the firm liked that the word evoked a wide variety of responses from people, says a company spokeswoman. The company plans to support the name's launch with a $110 million campaign, which branding experts say is a healthy sum.

"Like with any name, it's going to be what we make of it," says PWC Consulting spokeswoman Sehra K. Eusufzai. "Whereas some look upon it perhaps with dread, we see it as a fresh start and a new beginning."

Gas and … Intestines?

The name change for Philip Morris, meanwhile, is a logical step since the company wants to be known more for its stable of brands than for tobacco litigation, says Gregory.

"In the case of Philip Morris, it's the tobacco company's name as well as the parent company's name," says Gregory. "It makes sense for them to change the corporate name to Altria. It's short and concise, and it's starts with an 'A.' It's at the top of the list."

Others note that in this case, the name change may not rid the parent company of the stigma the Philip Morris name has acquired over the years from its entanglements in tobacco litigation.

"It's not clear to me that this doesn't fall into the 'You can run but you can't hide' category," says Keller.

For its part, Enron, whose name has become almost synonymous with scandal, hopes a new name will give it a fresh start as a stand-alone company free of associations with the past.

"If a new company were to go forward apart from the bankruptcy, it would need a new identity to represent the company that it will be," says Enron spokeswoman Karen Denne.

The company, which is soliciting ideas from employees for its new name, is no stranger no unfortunate name choices. Enron almost had a nomenclature nightmare when it was formed by the merger of InterNorth of Omaha and Houston Natural Gas in the early 1980s.

The original name for the company was Enteron, but that name was scrapped after a few days, when company executives realized that "enteron" is another word for intestines — a rather unappetizing name for any company.

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