Marketing — it starts with the name.

I’ll never forget the call I received in the 90s from a friend who had been working for Western Electric since the 70s. She informed me, among other things, that her employer had just changed the company’s name to Lucent Technologies. “Huh?” was my immediate reaction.

Until then, the names of the companies I knew either represented what they did — International Business Machines, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, and General Electric — or who started the company — Hewlett-Packard and Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Of course, today everyone knows these companies as IBM, 3M, GE, HP and MGM. But as Al Ries and Jack Trout outlined in Chapter 9 of their great (and very relevant) marketing classic Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, decades passed before those companies were known by their initials.

But it’s obvious that — with the success of companies sporting names such as Amazon, Google, and Fandango — the naming game has changed. Or has it?

Seth Godin’s wonderful take on the subject in “The new rules of naming” provides excellent guidance for picking the right name in today’s electronic world. In spite of the new naming challenges, however, it doesn’t sound like that much has changed.

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