Monday, June 7, 2010

Why do architects chose names that require a BBC pronunciation manual?

If Buschow Henley wasn’t bad enough, the practice has now rebranded and come up with Henley Halebrown Rorrison guaranteed to be as troublesome to BBC newsreaders as al-Qa’eda and J K Rowling.

But the difference, of course, is that because we hear about al-Qa’eda and Harry Potter’s creator quite a lot after a time their names just trip off the tongue. But who will remember Henley Halebrown Rorrison? It doesn’t even work as an acronym or an abbreviation and say it too quickly and you sound as if you’ve been running up five flights of stairs.It’s a hopeless name but it’s to keep all the remaining partners happy. In other words to soothe egos, which is what silly name changes are usually about.

Look at Rogers Stirk Harbour - always sadly destined to be known as Rogers - or the exceptionally unmemorable BFLS. Please don’t ask me what the letters stand for. I can’t remember. All I know is that it used to be Hamiltons and after that my mind goes blank. Oh, except that someone else who also worked there has opened an office called Grid, which doesn’t stand for anything as far as I know and sounds like a high performance tyre.

The list of firms who’ve split recently and the numbers who’ve been persuaded to undergo a ‘visual identity transition’ in rebranding speak grows by the day. This is because of internal disagreements on how to survive and what to target, retirement, and the realization that the office is no longer recognizable as the place you joined all those years ago. The hope is that a new name, like a new lover or a new car, will make you seem young and hip and happening again. Sadly, it never works.

I wish Henley Halebrown Rorrison all the very best of luck but I can’t help thinking that its name change is about as pointless as John Prescott’s insistence on a new brass plaque saying Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to replace the one which read the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office at a cost of £645. The name change was pure vanity, and now he’s going to be Lord Prescott surely a new plaque, costing even more, will be winging its way over to his new Westminster office.

So, before you change your name, stop and ask yourself wouldn’t you be better to stick with what we know, what we can honestly remember, and trips off the tongue rather than over it.

1 comment:

  1. Hello sis - I'll be your first comment!

    Let me know if you want help with pictures or links...