SPOTLIGHT ON: MINDSHARE - What does a company name say about its brand identity?/Omitting the ’media’ word from MindShare is crucial Alasdair Reid investigates.

What’s in a name? Probably a lot more than Bill Bard would have us believe - and there were some very severe criticisms, not least in this magazine, of WPP’s decision to light on MindShare as the tag for its group media operation. Some thought it too ’tree-hugging’, too California think-tank; others read even more sinister connotations (or should that be second-order semiological signification?) of brainwashing and Moonie-like cultism into it.

What’s in a name? Probably a lot more than Bill Bard would have us

believe - and there were some very severe criticisms, not least in this

magazine, of WPP’s decision to light on MindShare as the tag for its

group media operation. Some thought it too ’tree-hugging’, too

California think-tank; others read even more sinister connotations (or

should that be second-order semiological signification?) of brainwashing

and Moonie-like cultism into it.



Many Pooler, the managing director of MindShare UK, will be getting sick

of this sort of thing. She will recall only too well the howls of

derision that greeted the relaunch of O&M Media as the Network; but that

wasn’t as bad as the sniggers that Jim Marshall, chief executive of

MediaVest, has suffered in recent months. Yet it has stung MediaVest

into producing the best in-house ad the media sector has seen.



Do names really matter? Are they important in differentiating media

companies as brands? Media specialists have a different history to the

rest of the industry when it comes to names. Almost without fail,

full-service agencies had the owners’ names, or their initials, above

the door. That’s not just to do with monumental ego problems: the

personalities of the principals were usually the main - or only - brand

values an agency had to offer.



Granted, Chris Ingram & Associates was one of the first media

independents - now CIA, of course - but generic names were big even in

the early days of the media sector. The Media Department became TMD and

then TMD Carat.



Until recently, everyone was a Media Whatsits of some form or another -

including, eventually, CIA MediaWhatsits.



But media’s equivalent of music’s ’concept album’ phase has been

creeping up on us for many years. This is largely to do with the fact

that media dependants are spin-offs of agency media departments and are

still agency owned, so putting the media director’s name above the door

is not really appropriate.



Thus the road that began with Carat (as in gold standard) led to

Initiative (as in gumption), Zenith (as in ’we’re the biggest in the

business’) and inexorably to Share of Mind. Is that better or worse than

WPP Media?



The Advertising Agency Register now has a media specialist service. The

AAR managing director, Martin Jones, says that media companies don’t

have a great track record when it comes to differentiating themselves.

’They are getting better but clients know little about agencies. The

most successful media agencies are the ones that can be summed up in a

few words and the name is a good starting point but, in the end, the

performance of the company is paramount.’



David Abraham, the marketing director of St Luke’s, knows a thing or two

about names. Many in the industry thought St Luke’s was a dreadful name

when it was chosen a couple of years ago. It seems to have worked out.

He says: ’We spend all our time thinking about developing brands - our

vision was to do the same to ourselves and look at our company as a

business-to-business brand. Media companies should move away from those

generic names that no-one can distinguish.’



Mark Cranmer, the managing director of Motive Communications, says: ’We

are witnessing the birth of a new industry. As people bring media out of

the restrictive box it’s inhabited in the past, they tend not to want

the word ’media’ in the company title. I think MindShare is excellent.

The business these days is about just that - ensuring a share of mind -

and it will help the two WPP cultures - the Network and JWT - to come

together with a clear view of what their objective is.’



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