As a brand naming specialist who’s done product naming and company naming for hundreds of brands, it’s rare that a new brand name will surprise me. But when Booz & Company recently renamed itself Strategy& (as part of its acquisition by by Pricewaterhouse Coopers)—well, that was a new one.
You read it right: Strategy&.
The company renaming was mandated for legal reasons dating back to Booz & Company’s creation in 2008. (So to those who’ve been grousing that Booz & Company never should have renamed itself at all: just hush.)
Although I’ve yet to come across a naming consultant who likes the name, I confess I was of of two minds when I first heard it. Generically descriptive and boring as “Strategy” may be, the addition of that little ampersand lends a certain unexpected twist to the whole enterprise (as well as being graphically striking). The name is both disruptive in its impact yet transparent in its meaning—no easy feat when company naming.
One way to evaluate a brand name objectively is to use the 10 criteria that our naming company swears by (and recommends to our own clients). So how does Strategy& fare?
Distinctive? You bet. No one could accuse Strategy& of blending in with the herd. And that’s a big deal.
Brand fit? For a company that’s all about strategy plus other services yes, the name fits.
Long-lasting? Will it sound dated if naming trends change? Hardly. It’s unlikely that names ending in ampersands will ever become a trend in the naming business.
Concise? Well, it certainly has it all over Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
Accessible? While it’s easy to say and spell, the ampersand will be a bit of a stumble for those who hear the name for the first time rather than see it. They’ll assume it’s “Strategy and”—which sounds like an unfinished sentence, not a company name. On the other hand, the name provides a springboard into the company’s story: strategy and impact, strategy and execution, strategy and cream cheese…(just checking to see if you’re still awake).
Euphonic? Here’s where Strategy& really starts to falter. There’s something rhythmically (as well as semantically) off kilter about it. The very thing that makes it disruptive—that dangling ampersand—also makes it oddly unsettling. And not in a good way. We’re not used to company names that leave us hanging. I keep hearing voices in my head answering the telephone “Good morning, Strategy&.” And-and-and-what? Which brings me to…
Magnetic? The unusual construction of the name grabs you. But there’s no emotional or energetic charge. For all its gutsiness, Strategy& is dry and bookish: a one-dimensional name.
And unlike the best brand naming, which provokes us (and leaves us plenty of room) to fill in the blanks with our own imagination and associations, Strategy& literally requires the company to fill in the blanks for us.
I won’t go into the rest of our brand naming criteria (you can read them here if you like) because for me the story ends here. Strategy& is disruptive. It’s clever. It’s strategically on point. And the ampersand provides a tad of continuity with the company’s former name, Booz & Allen. But ultimately, the name falls a little flat. No ifs, &s, or buts about it.