How to rename a financial institution…

…without resorting to invented names whose only purpose is to quell internal dissent, like Truist, Comerica, Sonovus & Amegy.  Consultants invent these types of names and tell the client they mean something positive. Objections are minimized as the names don’t have any meaning, except those assigned by whomever made them up. These consultant will also tell a client that real words are too difficult to trademark, which is demonstrable false. They’re just a heavier lift to build consensus for. Here’s an example of what’s possible in the real-word world:


Brand Naming Survival Guide: Beware The Literalist.


In every naming project, potential names are subject to scrutiny. They should be judged on how well they map to positioning, memorability, stopping power, emotional impact, connections to the collective consciousness, distinction from competitors – the sum of which answers the most important naming question, “Is this name interesting?“.

The literalist will critique names based solely on dictionary definitions, reliably in the form of an objection. Their claim will be that a word’s negative meaning or association(correlation) means that the value of the word as a name will also be negative(causation). The evidence they cite in their efforts to kill a name is irrefutable fact, yet completely irrelevant and counterproductive. A negative definition does not a negative name make – there is no causation from correlation.

Here are some of the known tactics a literalist will use to kill great name:



-In business, Slack means “characterized by a lack of work or activity; quiet

-A Slacker is someone who works as little as possible. A terrible message for our target audience

– Slack means slow, sluggish, or indolent, not active or busy; dull; not brisk. Moving very slowly, as the tide, wind, or water. Neglect, reduce, tardy



-We are an upscale brand for women, lululemon sounds like a character from a 3-year olds’ picture book: “lululemon and her best friends annabanana and sallystrawberry were climbing Gumdrop Hill, when suddenly from behind a rainbow the queen of the unicorns appeared…”


Virgin Air

-Says “we’re new at this

-Public wants airlines to be experienced, safe and professional-

-Investors won’t take us seriously-Religious people will be offended



-It has one meaning, “to steal a car!”

-Crime is the last thing we need to be associated with



-Yahoo!! It’s Mountain Dew!

-Yoohoo! It’s a chocolate drink in a can!

-Nobody will take stock quotes and world news seriously from a bunch of “Yahoos”





-Only foretold death and destruction

-Only fools put their faith in an Oracle

-Sounds like “orifice” – people will make fun of us



-Do we really need bullet points for this one?


If you encounter a literalist, keep your distance, maintain eye contact, and take the threat seriously. Do not run in any direction. Don’t bend over, crouch down or go fetal. Wave your arms in an alpha manner. Throw any toxic item you can find – Keurig pods, inspirational posters, focus group data, etc. If attacked, fight back. If this doesn’t work, your last chance for survival is to enlighten the literalist:

These literal objections are not reasons to abandon a name, rather they have demonstrably positive effects on a target audience. Consumers don’t process names literally, they process them emotionally. Getting your committee to acknowledge this difference and to interact as the public does with names, rather than the way the dictionary does, is essential:



-Positioning:DISRUPTIVE, naming the problem we solve!

-Qualities:  confident, different, focused on solving the target’s problem.



-Positioning: a travel hack, exciting, fun.

– Hotwiring a car is a hack, that’s why this name works

-Qualities: Exciting, different, memorable, viral



-Positioning:DISRUPTIVE, different, confident, exciting, alive, human, provocative, fun. The innovative name forces people to create a separate box in their head to put it in.

-Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.



-Positioning:DISRUPTIVE, different, confident, superhuman, evocative, powerful, forward thinking.

-Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.


The ‘common wisdom’ that naming in large groups will discourage a literalist attack is nothing more than urban legend. In fact, the larger the committee, the more likely an attack will be.

Further reading: Outwitting Squirrels