For Companies, The Right Name Means a Lot

ByABC News
July 2, 2002, 3:17 PM

July 15 -- As the Mamas and the Papas once sang, "Monday, Monday, can't trust that day."

Let's hope those lyrics aren't prophetic for PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting arm, PWC Consulting. That firm plans to change its name to Monday once it separates from its parent company later this summer.

PWC Consulting isn't the only company embarking on a name makeover.

Philip Morris, the conglomerate that owns Kraft Foods but is probably best known for its cigarettes and costly tobacco litigation, recently decided to change its name to Altria to reflect the diversity of the company's brands.

And Enron, which is in the process of moving its core energy assets out from under bankruptcy and into a separate company, is looking for a new name for that entity.

The recent name changes highlight the importance for companies of choosing a moniker that is relevant and authoritative while still being catchy and appealing to consumers, say marketing experts. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but if a company chooses a name that doesn't work, the stench can hover for quite some time.

"Every time you think of a company, you think of their name," says Anthony Shore, senior director who leads the naming and writing practice at San Francisco-based brand consulting firm Landor Associates. "A name could be singled out as being an absolutely critical element."

Royal Blunder

Companies often decide to change their names in an effort to re-brand themselves after a merger or a spin-off.

For instance, Andersen Consulting changed its name to Accenture shortly after that firm split from parent Arthur Andersen a move that turned out to be fortuitous, given Andersen's troubles.

And Aventis, the pharmaceutical company that makes allergy medicine Allegra, chose its new name after it was formed from the merger of German pharmaceutical company Hoechst and French drug firm Rhône-Poulenc.

Companies may also want re-invent themselves after a scandal has tarnished its name, as Enron is doing.