What’s in a Name?

Would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet? I doubt it.

We all love the signature romantic scent of roses, but I venture that there is just as much appreciation for their actual name: The soft push of the “R” as we form the word, the soothing long “O,” the “S” that could so easily be a “Z.”

Oh, suppose a rose had some other name like hand, or food, or arm, or face, or, say carnation. Would it smell as sweet? No, it would not.

Sorry Juliet, you cannot doff thy name. The importance of a good name – something that defines, packages, and can be easily digested – cannot be denied.

While this is may be news to a Capulet, it’s not news to marketers and their “dri-fit,” “quicker picker uppers,” and Certs with Retsyn. And it’s certainly not news to politicians – at least some of them.

Mike Lofgren, author of The Party’s Over, explores “How Republicans have mastered the art of communicating with ordinary people in their own vernacular, while Democrats remain tone-deaf and tongue-tied.” Lofgren explains it’s why “entitlements” can be taken away, but “earned benefits” should be protected. It’s why “Death Tax” is more ominous than “Estate Tax.” And why the cumbersome “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” got abbreviated – and became much more controversial – with the catchier “Obamacare.”

No one can underestimate the power of a name. For marketing and communications professionals, it’s what makes a “brand refresh” an easier sell than a “rebranding initiative.” For businesses, it’s what makes a “Lunch & Learn” sexier than staff development or a sales presentation. For my kids, it’s what makes “Mommy’s Five-Food-Group Special” more enticing than my sad plating of cheese, crackers, peanut butter, carrots, and applesauce.

Because what’s in a name is everything, and it’s important to retain the dear perfection of everything that comes with it: the understanding of the audience, the encapsulating of the product, the rhythm of the words, and the quickness of the association. Naming products and processes is a chance to create something new, give it meaning and share it. It establishes a common language, and it gives people something to ask for – by name.

It’s smart to do it. And it’s imperative to do it right. Sorry Juliet.