I have always been curious about the origins of vehicle names. I wonder why some companies label their cars as a numbered series, others use just letters, some adopt common words as their names and others create their own words for naming. (Think of the BMW 700 series, the Acura TLX, the Ford Focus or the Dodge Caravan.)

Once you start paying attention you will quickly realize that there is no similar platform for what vehicles are named but I wish I could have eavesdropped on the discussions when the protocol was determined. I am sure the first time someone said “Dakota” people thought of the states, but now they see a vehicle image in their mind. Accord used to mean agreement or conjure up images of a Peace Accord, but now it’s a Honda. I’m sure that in their own way, all of the decisions made logical sense.

What I don’t understand, though, is who thought it was a good idea to name an RV “Intruder.” While some words like sierra, excursion or escape may have a dual meaning, none of them had a negative connotation before they were branded as vehicles. It reminded me of the infamous Nova debacle – with No va meaning “no go” in the Spanish market that was targeted for the vehicle. At least that wasn’t as blatantly obvious as the Intruder!

Bottom line: take great care when choosing a name. Whether it be the moniker for your product, service or child, it’s hard to change or live down a bad one. Don’t let a poor branding decision intrude on your messaging.


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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