This is the actual name of the IT service unit that IBM is outsourcing from its core business.
Soon the 90,000 employees affected by the change will no longer say that they work for “IBM” – perhaps one of the more classic, unambiguous company names of all time – but for “Kyndryl”, a portmanteau whose meaning and pronunciation are not immediately clear.
Somehow it only makes explaining worse. We can conclude that the pronunciation is “KIN-Drill” based on the logic given by IBM, but the seemingly arbitrary use of Ys as vowels opens the door to a Long I interpretation: KINE-Drile?
Googling the term doesn’t find many alternative uses, although there is a scary-looking “World of Warcraft” character who goes by the name.
It certainly seems like another company name that will join the pantheon of failed, or at least widely ridiculed, brands. But one expert in the field says we shouldn’t laugh too much.
“It’s not easy to come up with new names,” said Bernd Schmitt, Professor of Marketing at Columbia University and Faculty Director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership. “Many good names are already legally required and protected.”
Over time, he said, even a name that seems strange to consumers can be accepted and adopted. He points out that Haagen-Dazs are completely made up words that mean nothing. And Verizon((VZ) – the name given to the company formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE in 2000 – is an invented word that raised eyebrows at first, but it has become an established brand that few today speak about think twice.
Still, Corporate America’s history is miserable with questionable brand decisions – many of them instant flops – that have made customers scratch their heads. Here are just a few of the most popular doozies put together by CNN Business:
TroncThe name Tribune Publishing received in 2016 was an attempt by the traditional media company to position itself as a “content curation and monetization company”. The name lasted no longer than those catchphrases, and the name Tribune returned in 2018.
, the name that the once proud Woolworth Corp. Adopted in 1998 when she was trying to move away from her troubled discount store into sportswear retail. That name was deleted in 2001 in favor of Foot Locker, the largest chain at the time.
oath, the name of Verizon’s subsidiary, which was founded in 2017 to hold Yahoo’s assets (which it had just acquired) and AOL’s assets (which it already owned). The name was deleted in 2019 in favor of Verizon Media.
Quibi, a name that came and went in just six months, not because the name was so bad, but because the much-touted streaming service failed so quickly.
Then there are company names that have survived, though they are probably not as well known as the company names that replaced them:
The name was adopted by tobacco giant Philip
Morris in 2002 for greater diversification.
Mondelez International((MDLZ)Kraft, the name of the snack food division that Kraft Foods spun off in 2012. Instead of using the name of well-known brands such as Oreos, Ritz or Cadbury, Kraft referred to Latin as the reason for the invented word “monde” derives from the Latin word for “world”, and “delez” should be an imaginative expression of “delicious” be.
Altaba, the name Yahoo was given after it sold out various parts in 2017.
Academi, the second attempt at rebranding by controversial military contractor Blackwater, booted from Iraq in 2007. He first tried the name Xe in 2009 before moving to Academi in 2011.
StellantisA newcomer to the list is the company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and French automaker PSA Group (itself a relatively new name for the company that made Peugeot) earlier this year. The made-up word isn’t as well known as any of the brands in its portfolio, but it avoids the inevitable political battles that would have arisen from the choice of a brand name from either side.
Some other names seem half too smart, such as News Corp.’s((NWSA) News aggregator site Knewz, or Strategy&The name that accounting and consulting giant PwC Booz & Co. gave when it bought this strategy consulting business in 2014. The commercial and in the name is unmistakable, but was also largely mocked at that time.
Still other companies admit their mistakes and go back to their roots. US Steel changed its name to USX when it acquired Marathon Oil it then returned to US Steel((X.) after it was split back into two companies.
Federal Express was the original name of the delivery company, which changed its name to its stock symbol. FDXwhen it tried to expand its offerings and then reverted to its popular nickname, FedEx((FDX).
Maybe that will happen someday alphabet((Aco)
changed its holding company’s name to Alphabet in 2015 to indicate that it has become more than its best-known brand. Although alphabet is a real word, its popular adoption was made difficult by how popular the word Google had already become.
“Google has become part of the language,” said Schmitt. “It’s so well established that it’s understandable why people would still be using that name.”
Ultimately, the success or failure of a company name depends heavily on the success or failure of the company itself, Schmitt said. Google didn’t destroy Bing because Google was so much a better name than Bing. The real product won in the market.
“It is the product that ultimately determines the success of the brand,” he said. “The name is almost a decoration. If Google had failed, we’d make fun of that name.”