Yell's AGM on 26 July features an interesting agenda point. The company will ask its shareholders if it's alright to rename and rebrand itself under the name 'Hibu'. The shareholders will probably vote in favour; Yell's latest annual report was once again a disappointing read and sent its share price to previously unknown depths (you can now buy a share in the company for just 2.29p).
By renaming itself the company hopes to become a key player in the digital market. Yell feels there's no way the Yell brand can compete with the likes of Google and eBay, and so it has paid good money to a marketing agency to invent a name that's short, easy to pronounce and
sounds edgy and innovative. (It's worth noting the Yellow Pages won't be renamed. Printing millions of unsolicited directories isn't Hip & Trendy and would only damage the Hibu brand.)
Personally, I don't think there's much wrong with the Yell brand. Sure, things can't get much worse for the company and people view Yell as one of the losers of the so-called internet revolution. Nevertheless, it's also a brand with history. Everybody knows the name 'Yell' and recognises the 'walking fingers' logo. For Yell that might not be a very pleasant thought right now, but to just change your name and branding when the going gets tough seems somewhat thoughtless. Plus, Yell has only just started work on its eMarketplace strategy (aimed at getting a foothold in the market for all things digital). Yell may have more credit then its marketing department realises - and it might underestimate how long it takes to build a brand.
Connecting at the heart of the Hibu logo
It wouldn't surprise me if Hibu becomes the object of endless ridicule. The public doesn't necessarily view a new name and logo in the way marketeers intend (Consignia springs to mind). It doesn't help, then, that Yell is unable to communicate its thinking behind Hibu. Here's the official explanation for the change:
"When people connect, communities thrive, and we are a vital connection in an ever changing world. So, we are changing too […] and will become hibu."
I love fallacies. I mean , just look at it…
- Argument 1 : When people connect, communities thrive
- Argument 2 : We are a vital connection in an ever changing world
- Conclusion : We are changing too and will become hibu
As another example of gobbledegook, see if you can decipher this blab about the Hibu logo (from the same press release):
"In addition to being consumer oriented and a symbol in its own right, we wanted our identity to tell a story. We have developed a new positioning for the organisation – 'connecting communities'. Communities are built on the connections people make and people are connected at the heart of the hibu logo. The identity utilises typography with soft shouldered edges like the human body and coloured dots represent the people behind the identity, diversity, connections and conversation. By using bold lower case typography with soft edges we project a human and approachable company."
I'm not sure if I want Hibu to be in the centre of my community. What a load of crap.
High-Boo or High-Bue?
In case you're wondering, Hibu is pronounced High-Boo and Yell wants us to write Hibu without the capital - even when it's the first word in a sentence. Odd capitalisation (ReAD Group, eBay, iThingies) seems to be an obsession for marketeers nowadays - they see it as being
innovative. If you're a language purist or reluctant to adopt spelling rules invented by marketeers you may just write Hibu as you would any other proper noun.
Equally intriguing is the umlaut in the logo. Is it entirely co-incidental that there are two people (represented by coloured dots, remember?) happily connecting above the letter 'u'? It seems Yell has been struggling with that one as well; if you have a look at the About page on the Hibu website you'll notice that 'Hibu' is consistently written with an umlaut [This has now been 'corrected' on the Hibu website - JB]. My guess is this was how the marketing folk initially wanted us to write the word (and then they realised nobody would have a clue how to pronounce Hibü but forgot to update the web page).