First fix, then rename
Before you turn on that labelmaker, pick up a wrench
“When you are holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
–The law of the instrument
This one goes out to the problem solvers.
When something is confusing, ineffective, or confronting, you might be tempted to give it a new name. Fresh nomenclature can clarify, reinvigorate, or soften language that offends. This is true. But terminology can’t solve everything. Before you rename something, see if you can fix the problem first.
When you are holding a labelmaker, everything looks like a naming problem. It’s easy to succumb to this bias when you live on the Internet, a world made of words.
Japanese customers aren't using our blender as much as we’d like, should we rename it?
Finance doesn’t understand what the Brand team does, should we rename it?
Calling the social club Koffeeklatch might alienate tea drinkers and Germanophobiacs, should we rename it?
Sometimes a new nametag is the right move, but isn’t it weird to start here? This is like changing your unwieldy toddler’s name from Ethan to Santosh, to see if he’ll stop climbing the China hutch.
Start with the real problem instead.
It’s not always easy and it might not be fun, but it’s probably more effective than printing out a label and calling it a day. It’s rare that a tweak of language suffices to solve a hard problem.
Now if tush comes to glove, you are very welcome to rename your product, your creative department, your meetup group, and even your three-year-old if you think it will help.
Just don’t make this your starting point. Before you turn on that labelmaker, pick up a wrench.