Thursday, 17 October 2013

As EE's branding boss quits, I ask: Is this the worst brand name ever?

So EE’s top marketer Steven Day is to leave his role as chief of brand and communications at the end of the year. Could this, I wonder be anything to do with the fact that he was responsible for creating one of the worst brand names in living memory.

Imagine you worked for EE. When people ask you what they do for a living and you respond “I work for EE” what do you suppose they say in response?  Probably “I beg your pardon, I didn’t quite catch that”.  It’s such a ‘blink and you miss it’-sort-of-a-name that when Kevin Bacon says it on TV he seems to find the need to elongate it into “Eeee”. 

When I worked in the drinks trade and we dreamt up new brand names we always posed the question: Is it a good bar call? Is it the sort of name that people will hear properly, understand, be able to pronounce properly and feel comfortable shouting out across a bar? EE, if you hear it at all, just sounds silly.

The irony is that it’s just one letter off being a very effective name.  EDF, DHL, M&S and many other three-letter combinations work well because they exploit the rhythm of the ‘power of three’. Information in two pieces, however, leaves you anticipating a third and being frustrated when it never comes.

So what about AA, you may ask?  That works because we never say “AA”, which again would sound silly. We always say “The AA” because it is an abbreviation of The Automobile Association.

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