Had a comment posted to this blog a couple of weeks ago. At the end of the comment, the writer noted that he had the same name as me. Later that day, I was speaking with a colleague who informed me that the signature on his birth certificate was also of someone with the same name as me. (Why he knew this I don’t know. If it hasn’t disintegrated already, my birth certificate is in a box somewhere under the basement steps right next to a carton of Norwegian troll lawn ornaments.)
I found both of these instances to be very disturbing. Even if it’s a stretch to believe I am one-of-a-kind, I do like to think of myself as a semi-unique individual, not as Rob O’Keefe version 226, release 17. Yet even when creating a password for some random e-commerce site, I find that I cannot gain permission to use rokeefe as my user I.D. I am reduced to rokeefe4 or 10 or some other ego-reducing nomenclature. (My prediction for the future: user IDs and passwords will become so ubiquitous that parents will be forced to name their children using a combination of eight to sixteen letters and numbers, with at least 2 instances of capitalization. “Oh, what lovely children you have. What are there names?” The reply: “Well, this is x3yURs4. He’s my oldest. This is his sister, Pdzi89ln. She’ll be starting third grade in September.”)
Back to the subject at hand. Imagine that each of us is a brand. We have our own attributes and personalities. But unless our attributes and personalities are extremely powerful or unique, when people think of us, they think of us as our names.
So what happens when an organization’s name is very similar to other organizations? Example: how many Children’s Hospitals are there in the U.S.? For organizations that can fully staff based on a local or regional population, the problem is less of an issue. But for those that have to reach out beyond the region to a national base, the identity crisis can be a significant impediment.
What’s the answer? Well, you could try a never-ending series of nasty lawsuits. Or you could work towards becoming a magnet employer. For those unfamiliar with the term, a magnet employer is higher on the food chain than the mentioned-more-times-than-should–be-legally-allowed “employer of choice.” A magnet employer has achieved alignment between business objectives, company mission, employment experience, and the employer brand.
How does an organization become a magnet employer? You’ll have to wait for the next entry to find out.