don’t name it that

When you’ve been in design as long as I have, you become jaded by the ubiquity of mediocre design.



Back in early ‘90s I designed the logo for Associated Foods—the “cart in the A”—that you see on big trucks throughout the Intermountain West. So I was quite interested when Associated Foods adapted my logo for the identity of the Albertson’s chain of grocery stores that they acquired in 2009. The company-owned stores were named “Fresh Market using the “cart in the A” inside an apple. They didn’t ask for my design help (I certainly wouldn’t have put it inside an apple.) Nor did they ask my opinion on the name.

When you’ve been in design as long as I have, you become jaded by the ubiquity of mediocre design. Perhaps that’s why I’m bothered so much by their choice of name. Fresh Market doesn’t even seem like a name. It’s a description. Albertson’s is a much more memorable name. For some reason, clients feel their name must be descriptive. RIM had been leaning toward “EasyMail” before the naming firm Lexicon came up with the hugely successful “BlackBerry”. Intel had wanted to call the Pentium “ProChip,” and some at P&G had wanted to call the Swiffer “EZMop”.

Admittedly, it’s hard. You want something unique, protectable and almost impossible these days—available as a URL—restraints that often lead to creative misspellings and syllable combinations. Such was the case when we were recently engaged to create a name and an identity for a new client. They liked our design ideas, but stuck with their own misspelled naming choice.

The printing industry has been going through shrinking revenue and consolidations. A company which we have used for years, PrintTech, has been acquired or merged and changed their name to Advantage Utah, an easily-forgettable name with yet another swoosh-like logo.

There are plenty of enormously successful companies with forgettable names (Walmart, General Electric), so clearly, there is much more involved than your choice of names. But in this over-communicated society that we live in today, why make it harder?

Picture of Randall Smith

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