After a $60 billion rip-off, the disgraced energy giant Enron sheds its old image of EnWRONG to Prisma. After paying $665 million in legal fees, the company is restructured under the name identity of Prisma while some of its executives walk to prison.
Prisma is on a short leash, with a staff of 5,000 in 25 different business units, a big drop from the 2,400 business entities during the big con. Its oily cadre turn blue suits into striped uniforms and swing more to the sounds of PRISNa. “Guards, is it chow time yet?”
A moment of silence, please. We ought to be thoughtful of those who lost real money and for those who are still losing sleep due to the haunting echoes of the newly released Enron audiotapes, mocking grandmothers and jokingly closing energy plants just to increase their rates. Should we be amused by Prisma’s name identity as an imaginary, environmentally friendly rainbow that is now arching from their headquarters all the way to the big house? Hmmm.
The Art of Identity
Corporate image is the art of creating true business identities, and projecting them to the subtle minds of the public, all in pursuit to capture their trust in a name. But when there is no substance, the deal is just a sham, and suddenly, this noble art quickly turns into witchcraft. Voodoo, that is. You just can’t put any fancy name on a car without an engine and hope the public would behave like Fred Flintstone and foot pedal it because of its big tagline, “Yabba Dabba Doo”.
These days, any upgrade in prison accommodation requires advanced bookings. The influx of looters from the world’s top corporations has nicely filled the halls and corridors of prisons all over the world. It seems the business that has been lost by five-star hotels has been systematically transferred to the chow lines at prisons. The talk of the town is now the sponsorship of prisons as they pull down big signs from stadiums: “WorldCom presenting at Alcatraz,” or “Adelphia at Sing Sing.” This could help tourism, or create a new reality show.
Changing a big name like Enron is not easy. Its tilted logo, clearly pointed its southbound intentions right from the start. There are a million-plus identical prisma names on the Web. This alone could cause serious confusion. It is a known fact that poor naming will keep a corporation stuck in the mud along with its image and share value. Casually picked names can be ruthlessly cruel and extremely wicked, gone are the days of alphabet name games with expensive hip-hop branding. Naming is not a creative exercise, it is a serious and tactical one. Business naming is no longer a joke.
Let’s be Glad, it’s not a Pentagonish name, projecting bench-pressing guys hanging out in the prison and called “Operation Naked Freedom” or a real “Kaalifornian” style, humvee-driven, corporation called Embezzelon-2.
Right now, there is a most critical concern facing just about every senior executive today: visibility. How do you achieve higher visibility on global e-commerce? Either you’re clearly visible or miserably lost. No amount of advertising will help this climb, unless brand new rules and the laws of global cyber-branding and naming are applied. This subject is neither discussed in branding conferences nor taught in ivy league business schools. As a matter of fact, the entire curriculum of any MBA program in America and Europe has little but a page on the current issues of global domain styling, intercontinental corporate naming strategies or cyber-brand name identities management. Is it a wake-up call for colleges and universities to adopt better guidelines on naming and domain management.
We are now living in a revolutionary cyber-name driven global society. Here, names skate like icons in a hierarchical formation on global e-commerce. Only the smart ones will know how to play this marketing game in this name-economy. Names must maintain their unique power and offer global access to new customers in search of deals. This is only possible with a name identity based on a precise alpha-structure, especially designed for such a task to work like a five-star quality name, otherwise it’s of no value and all branding is parked in oblivion.
Old-fashioned, big budget advertising unnecessarily supporting confusing name identities with spinning logos is losing its power fast. Big branding firms have littered the global landscape with big time naming failures. This has only hurt their image of corporate identity practices in the process. Isn’t this so obvious by now, really. So, for serious naming, you simply have to look somewhere else over the rainbow.
Naseem Javed,author of Naming for Power and Domain Wars, is recognizedas a world authority on global name identities and domain issues. Heintroduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the ’80s and also founded ABCNamebank, a consultancy with offices in New York and Toronto, aquarter-century ago.