15 Jul Why is Enron now called Prisma?
Because a rainbow arches from its HQ all the way to prison.
After a $60 billion rip-off, this disgraced energy giant sheds its old image of ENWRONG to PRISMA. After paying $665 million in legal fees, the company is restructured under the new identity of PRISMA while some of its executives walk to prison. The PRISMA Corporation is on a short leash, with a staff of 5000 in 25 different business units, a big drop from the 2400 business entities during the big con. Its oily cadre turn blue suits into striped uniforms and swing more to the sounds of PRISMA. “Guards, is it chow time yet?”
A moment of silence, please. We ought to be thoughtful for those who lost real money and for those who are still losing sleep due to the haunting echoes of the newly released ENRON audiotapes, mocking grandmothers and jokingly closing energy plants just to increase their rates. Should we be amused by PRISMA’s name identity as an imaginary, environmentally friendly rainbow that is now arching from their HQ all the way to the big house? Hmmm.
Corporate image is the art of creating true business identities, and projecting them to the subtle minds of the public, all in pursuit of capturing their trust in a name. But when there is no substance, the deal is just a sham, and suddenly, this noble art quickly turns into witchcraft. Voodoo, that is. You just can’t put any fancy name on a car without an engine and hope the public will behave like Fred Flintstone and foot-pedal it because of its big tagline, Yabba Dabba Doo.
These days, any upgrade in prison accommodation requires advanced bookings. The influx of looters from the world’s top corporations has nicely filled the halls and corridors of prisons all over the world. It seems business lost by five-star hotels has been systematically transferred to the chow lines at prisons. The talk of the town is now the sponsorship of prisons as they pull down big signs from stadiums: WorldCom presenting at Alcatraz, or Adelphia at Sing Sing. This could help tourism, or create a new reality show.
Changing a big name like ENRON is not easy. Its tilted logo clearly pointed its southbound intentions right from the start. There are a million-plus identical Prisma names on the Web. This alone could cause serious confusion. It is a known fact that poor naming will keep a corporation stuck in the mud along with its image and share value. Casually picked names can be ruthlessly cruel and extremely wicked. Gone are the days of alphabetti name games with expensive hip-hop branding. Naming is not a creative but rather a serious and tactical exercise. Business naming is no longer a joke.
Let’s be glad it’s not a Pentagonish name, projecting bench-pressing guys hanging out in the prison and called “Operation Naked Freedom” or a real Kaalifornian style, hum-v driven, corporation called EMBEZZELON-2.
Right now, there is a most critical concern facing just about every senior executive. Visibility. How do you achieve higher visibility in global e-commerce? Either you’re clearly visible or you’re miserably lost. No amount of advertising will help this climb, unless brand new rules and the laws of global cyber-branding and naming are applied. This subject is neither discussed in branding conferences nor taught in Ivy League B Schools. As a matter of fact, the entire curriculum of any MBA program in America or Europe has hardly a page on the current issues of global domain styling, inter-continental corporate naming strategies or cyber-brand-name identities management. Is it a wake-up call for colleges and universities to adopt better guidelines on naming and domain mangement.
We are now living in a revolutionary cyber-name-driven global society. Here, names like icons skate in a hierarchical formation on global e-commerce. Only the smart ones will know how to play this marketing game in this name-economy. Names must maintain their unique power and offer global access to new customers in search of deals. This is only possible with a name identity based on a precise alpha-structure, especially designed for such a task to work like a five-star quality name, otherwise it’s of no value and all branding is parked in oblivion.
Old-fashioned, big budget advertising, unnecessarily supporting confusing name identities with spinning logos, is losing its power fast. Big branding firms have littered the global landscape with big-time naming failures. This has only hurt their image of corporate identity practices in the process. Isn’t this so obvious by now, really. So, for serious naming, you simply have to look somewhere else over the rainbow.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and Domain Wars, recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues, introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the eighties and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy he established in New York & Toronto a quarter-century ago. Naseem conducts exclusive executive workshops on global naming issues and cyber-branding, via web conferences.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.