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A Rose by Any Other Name? I Wonder…

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

 

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

 

Shakespeare’s words make for beautiful poetry, but do they ring true in today’s market-driven business world?  Not really.  A variety of similar products may “smell as sweet” as one another, but the name by which they are known will have much to do with how well they sell in the marketplace.  Whether you are talking about a product or a service, the name by which you are known says a lot about you, on a number of levels.

So what causes me to wax poetic today?  I just read that the Ritz-Carlton Boston was sold, and will be re-named.  Now, as a customer-oriented guy, who has a background in trademarks and brand names, this makes about as much sense as poking yourself in the eye with a pointed stick.

For the past 100 or so years, the name Ritz-Carlton has been synonymous with “legendary service” and “gracious elegance,” if I may quote the Ritz’s web site.  Furthermore, the Ritz-Carlton Boston has been the cornerstone of this hotel chain’s glamorous history, dating back to the early 20th Century.

So, while the new owners of this property, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, one of Asia’s largest hotel groups, undoubtedly have great pride in their own organization, I wonder how strategic a move it is to drop one of the most timeless of all trademarks in order to promote their own organization.

The CEO has already said that he intends to keep all the management and employees currently working at the Boston Ritz, and that’s great.  These folks are already trained in the Ritz-Carlton “way.”  So why boot the name, in favor of something reminiscent of Donald Trump’s gaudy house o’ fun in Atlantic City?  Names with the sterling reputation of “Ritz-Carlton” don’t come along every day.  So unless there is some stipulation in the sale agreement that the Ritz name specifically can not be used by the new owners, I’m thinking they are making an egregious mistake.

— Chuck Dennis

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