(This was first published on The TBBE Blog.)

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

Juliet says this in William Shakespeare’s legendary play, Romeo & Juliet. By virtue of the message behind it, this quote speaks a million truths. A rose will smell just as sweet if it is called anything else. The software I’m writing this on would do the job just as well if it was called something else other than MS Word. But ask a rose if it wants to be called something else, and it’ll probably say no.

A rose isn’t merely a name anymore, it’s a brand. It’s not merely a flower, it’s a symbol of love when it’s red; it’s a symbol of purity when it’s white. All through the many years of its existence, the rose has become an icon. The flower’s name means a lot, which is probably why it wouldn’t be the same with a different name.

The importance of a name is for us to see all around us today, particularly in the world of communications. The brand name of a company, a product or a service is of immense value. Every piece of communication is built around the brand name. And no one is ready to give away an established brand name.

I came across an example of this in the past few days during Navratri. For a few years now, one of the finest garba events to attend in Ahmedabad has been the one organised by a group called the Friends Group. The Friends Garba is the place to be seen, having passes to this garba has been a matter of pride and prestige. The crème-de-la-crème of Ahmedabad attends the Friends Garba.

There are many stories about how the Friends Group originated, I am not sure which of them is true, but in the last couple of years, the group is said to have split up. So now we have more than one Friends Garba, organised by different people. Which group is the original one probably depends on where you get the free passes from, but the interesting thing I noticed this year was the brand extension of the groups. This year we have garba events by Friends Lite and Friends Fusion.

The point here is the value of the name. The Friends brand has been built up so well in the past few years that no one wants to let go of it, and understandably so. The word ‘Friends’ in the organiser’s name is enough to draw a good crowd; it’s the garba everyone wants to go to, after all.

In the coming years, Ahmedabad might end up seeing too many variants of the Friends Garba, and someone might start building a garba brand in a new name. But as of now, Shakespeare Sir, there’s a lot in the name.