Commentary

Names Matter. Either Consumers Recognize It - Or They Mock

Names in the digital world can always be a risk.

Tribune’s newspapers, print and related businesses are changing its name back to something more recognizable: Tribune Publishing.

Its current moniker? Tronc, a name subject to some derisive comments, was introduced two years ago. That's when Tribune Company wanted to give specific identities to each of its main TV (Tribune Media) and print businesses.

When I hear “tronc,” I think “trunk” -- or the celebrated New England Patriots tight-end 'Gronk' Rob Gronkowski. That’s not good.

Before this, we had other head-scratching names. Two years ago, Disney-ABC Television younger-skewing cable network changed to Freeform from former ABC Family. That  name feels a bit loosey-goosey -- a little too free.

Time and wear and tear soothes labels and monikers. But it's no substitute for sensibility.

Previously, we had the transformation to Syfy, which made sense, as a short, easy moniker from the Sci Fi Channel.

Viacom’s Spike channel, a very male-sounding name, was changed to the softer Paramount Network in early 2017. (Will more women watch the network now?) Viacom wants to deliver more of the movie-brand associations connected with Paramount movies.

AT&T recently went through the name game. It wanted to add some zip to its growing TV advertising unit, the cumbersome moniker AT&T Advertising and Analytics. Now, it is Xandr, or a more lowercase “xandr,” as it appears on its logo.

Perhaps not apparent to all business executives -- and especially consumers -- Xandr refers to Alexander Graham Bell, the company’s 19th-century founder. Still, Xandr is easy to say, and seems to yield little confusion. That makes it a good -- although not great -- name.

We are perhaps happier with something like Hulu -- which seems to have a twirl cousin, hula. Netflix? A TV 'network'-like service, for sure. But the “flix” part of the name spells theatrical movies to me.

Then again, Netflix rolls easily off the tongue. And with nearly 120 million worldwide subscribers, who could argue? But Tronc? That name is looking for a fight.

2 comments about "Names Matter. Either Consumers Recognize It - Or They Mock".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 8, 2018 at 3:38 p.m.

    Good one, Wayne. When I first heard the name Tronc I thought---for a moment---that they were talking about that big tight end of the New England Patriots----then I realized he's "Gronk" , not Tronc.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 8, 2018 at 8:50 p.m.

    Sounds like they just run out of words for names.

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