What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Words have meaning and names have power.  ~Author Unknown

It’s old news by this point, but if you haven’t heard, Radio Shack is changing their name to The Shack.

My first thought when I started seeing this on Twitter? “Oh, I bet that’s a funny Onion article. I’ll have to read it later.”

That’s probably not the reaction they were going for, but I definitely wasn’t alone in the thought it wasn’t true.  It sounds absurd because the images it conjures doesn’t fit.  To me, The Shack sounds like a club of some kind, not an electronics store.

So what made them decide to change their name?

My assumption would be an attempt to reposition their brand.  For years, Radio Shack has been battling an image of lower quality products despite them expanding their offerings to include high end products like iPods and cellular phones.  Changing their name to The Shack however is not going to counter that image on its own.  The term shack doesn’t inspire images of quality but instead makes it sound even cheaper.

Rebranding is always difficult.  On the one hand you’re shedding the negative associations with the previous branding, but you’re also losing the good will associated with it.  You’re also essentially starting from scratch, however, instead of just trying to introduce a new brand, you’re trying to get people to understand that it’s the same brand which in many ways defeats the purpose.  As we become more and more inundated with marketing messages, consumers are even more likely to go for the brands that they’re familiar with.  After all, how often when you’re grocery shopping do you grab the items you need based on recognition?

Personally, I don’t think it was the best idea, but only time will tell.  What do you think?