Lisa Merriam

Descriptive Names Are Not Brands–Global Automakers

Descriptive names can be tempting. The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers is different in the same old way agaGlobal-Automakers-descriptive namein. Today they announced they are the Association of Global Automakers, which from 1975 to 1990 was known as Automobile Importers of America. Oh, and they have a new logo made of interlocking swooshes in varying shades of blue that symbolizes how this lobbying group participates in a collaborative process with legislators and regulators. Really.

Association naming is not an area where you will find much creativity. For the most part, you get descriptive names like the American Bankers Association, the American Bus Association, and the American Booksellers Association, each of which is known as “The ABA.” Some associations create confusion by breaking from the clear descriptive naming convention, going only by their initials. Unless you know what the initials stand for, you are lost. What does the ASAE do? You have to dig pretty deep into their press kit to find out. The ASAE is the American Society of Association Executives—an association of associations.

One wonders what genuine value the Association of Global Automakers will enjoy by this small, but costly change. They did cut their name from twenty syllables to twelve. I’m not sure the AGA is much better a set of initials than AIAM. They do have a better URL— For the most part, if you have a descriptive name, you probably don’t have a brand. Monkeying with semantics is probably not worth the effort.

Naming How-To:

Naming Mistakes
Six Factors for a Memorable and Motivating Name
History of Best Known Brands
Styles and Types of Brands
Choosing a Name
Try a Recycled Name
Web 2.0 Naming Considerations
What is Brand Architecture
Approaches to Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture and Business Strategy

Companies and Products:

MSNBC vs. and The Bigger Naming Problem
Macy’s Blunder with Marshall Field’s Name Change
Banks and the Name Game from Bank Marketing Magazine
AIG Name Change to AIU
Breaking Up the Motorola Brand
Google’s Speedbook Disaster
Renaming a Small Business
Proxios CEO Talks About Renaming Process
Naming a Green Sportswear Company
Unintentionally Funny Names-BARF
Unintentionally Funny Names-Putzmeister
Unintentionally Funny Names-Bimbo
Renaming a $2 Billion IPG Agency
Renaming Iraqi Freedom
Selected Naming Portfolio