I have been reading Gerry McGovern’s excellent book, Killer Web Content. Early in the book, talking about the importance of words, he gives a couple of examples of how renaming things caused them to be evaluated in new ways. A friend told him that merchant bankers were having difficulty getting investors for “third-world economies.” The level of interest changed dramatically, however, when someone stared describing them as, “emerging economies.” His other example was when Fortune magazine changed a recurring headline from something like, “Better Plans for Retirement” to “Retire Rich.” Those two words apparently led to a huge jump in sales.
I began to think of examples that I knew myself. The lowly and unloved “Chinese Gooseberry” became the “Kiwi Fruit” and the rest, as they say, was history. “Kentucky Fried Chicken” gave itself a make-over to the much healthier sounding (?) “KFC” and the Japanese car company changed its brand in the U.S. from the well-known “Datsun” to “Nissan” and caused a lot of customer confusion.
Can you think of any other significant name changes?