I have to admit I was puzzled when Marathon became Snickers, why did the name have to change? The product remained the same, it’s not as if the name gives some clue as to what they are at first glance. I decided to do a little digging. The tasty, nutty, chocolate bar (should have called it that!) was only called Marathon in the UK and Ireland, everywhere else it was Snickers - a product of the Mars company since the 1930’s. Snickers was the name of the favourite horse of the company. I wish I had a favourite horse. Anyway, it got its name, for better or worse from something personal to the owner, a perfectly fine thing to do, but why did Snickers become Marathon for our markets in the first place? Possibly the correlation between energy and the endurance race. Perhaps they were concerned that Brits would panic “What the hell is a Snickers?” (I hold my hands up to that). Then they aligned the name throughout the world and almost everybody knows a Snickers – it’s a Mars bar with nuts in! (Nailed it)
So why am I banging on about chocolate and horses?
Names, let’s say the names of things rather than people for the sake of this blog, they are important. A name is not simply a tool we use so we know what to call something a name is an identity, in some cases a promise. And yes, sometimes a lovely horse.
And why shouldn’t there be completely personal reasons behind christening something? To name something after its function isn’t very exciting, there has to be some personality in there, maybe even a bit of an ethos. So we concoct names to show our love of something, or our flair for the creative or that we know fancy foreign words.
A theatre company is built essentially on promises, ones you endeavour to deliver no matter what your area of interest. Ultimately it’s all about the audience. The title of a production is the first thing they see but for an audience to know what they’re buying into, they look at the company name. Finding two, three, or four words to encapsulate what you do is, let’s face it, a bitch.
Naming a theatre company is like trying to navigate a minefield, many of your good ideas are taken “Oooh Oooh I’ve got a good one….Awww crap!” You want the words to stand out, to resonate but you don’t want them to give up their secrets all at once (what the hell is a Snickers?) After a time you have your name and it is working, it’s saying what you want it to say and people are starting to know the name and discuss your company alongside others, they know your work. Then inevitably with a lot of theatre companies, the years pass and change comes, your interests and focus shifts and you’re operating under a name that no longer sits right. It was you a few years ago but it doesn’t lend itself to what you do today. Imagine trying to rename a theatre company that has existed 6 or so years to find that shiny new companies have come along and taken all the good names. You try and try to get “Has anybody seen my…Theatre Company” past the team but no, again it’s has to stand the test of time, has to be ‘you’.
Change is risky, it’s why we fear it, the uncertainty of what’s to come. Once again in the world of theatre, it’s all about - will the audience go on the journey with you? All you can know is that the determination and drive of the theatre company never changes. So why not make adjustments in other areas, take that risk. Or as Snickers would suggest “Get Some Nuts” We know what we want to say and how to say it. It’s now up to you to decide.
What’s in a name?