Monday Rant: The Lame Name Game Takes Another Victim

There are few companies that I love, but Administaff was one.

Why?  Because they did exactly what their brand name says — they took care of all the administration of my staff, including HR, payroll, benefits, liabilities, hiring, compensation, etc.   Administaff was my trusted partner / PEO (Professional Employer Organization).

But now Administaff is gone.

In it’s place is “Insperity”, a company that I already hate because it stands for nothing.   Yep, Administaff fell victim to the Lame Name Game.  Some branding genius decided they needed a new brand name, and now the brand is nearly worthless.  It’s the same company, but it broke my cardinal rule of branding and marketing: “Pick a name that means something and communicates your position to your customer.”  Made up names like Insperity are never winners.

No, don’t tell me that Yahoo! and Google are made-up names that don’t mean anything.  In fact they do.  When I find what I want after a long search, I say Yahoo!  When I want to sort through a bazillion (aka a “google or googol”) of web pages, I know where to go.   Note however that plenty of (mostly failed) internet companies have tried to create meaningless names.

In the classic marketing text “Positioning: the Battle for your Mind“, the authors explain why “to be successful today you must touch base with reality.” And why a brand name must “stand for something amidst the cluttered marketplace. Naming begins the positioning process.  The better names often tell the prospect about the major benefit.”

Your brand gives you one chance — sometimes just one word — to communicating your unique position to customers.  The position should be obvious.  It should not require a second thought.

Insperity, incredibly, came with a two-page letter from the CEO explaining the meaning and intent of the new brand name.  Are you kidding me?  If it takes two pages to explain what your brand means to customers… you’ve already lost them.

In case you are wondering, Insperity is supposed to be a combination of integrity and inspiration…. the two things that the CEO believes his company stands for.

Which, by the way, breaks my second rule of marketing…”Talk in terms that are important to the customer… Never talk about yourself!”

So while having a great company do all the administrative work for my staffing problems is EXACTLY what I am looking to pay for, this brilliant CEO believes that I should pay him for his integrity and inspiration.  Is that because I don’t have enough integrity or inspiration of my own?

My integrity is just fine, thank you.

To me, this idiotic name change simply shows me that “Insperity” lacks the integrity to be who they truly are…. Administaff.

Yours in (plainspoken) profits.

David Worrell

Originally Published

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