Jaap Wilms is an international CX consultant and the founder of Wilms & Co. Here, ahead of his role as a judge at the 2019 International Customer Experience Awards in Amsterdam, he offers insight into why a name can make, or break, your CX programme…

A well-chosen name is priceless – it can give a sense of energy, ambition, and can help you create a stir.

It can take you to the moon and back. Did you ever think of your initiatives as something exquisite, delicate, and to be savoured? Probably not…but let’s start doing so now.

Consider the name W154 for a moment. It’s a puzzling name, right?

At the very least it’s a functional name. Now, attach the name Mercedes-Benz to it and it will spark some curiosity. Still, it can be anything from some boring engine part to a read-out of a metric of some sort.

Now, see what happens when I now tell you the nickname for the W154 and all Mercedes’ racing cars: the Silver Arrow. All of a sudden a world opens up and your imagination takes off.

In fact, the W154 is Mercedes-Benz’ very successful 1938 Grand Prix racing car designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut. It is a remarkable feat of aerodynamics, balance, and speed (reaching a stunning 185mph) all in an amazing design. Driver and European Champ Rudolf Caracciola eloquently described it as a car that “needed finesse rather than force to handle”.

Silver-age star: The Mercedes-Benz W154

The nickname Silver Arrow is perfect as it not only reflects its features, but also what it’s capable of achieving. It offers a sense of energy, ambition, and force.

It’s a promise.

I was actually chastised by a friend for using the English translation of the actual original German name, “Silberpfeile”.

It’s a mythical name. A name to be savoured. And indeed, that friend tried to describe the importance of it, including that gesture you make when describing something almost intangible: thumb and fingers delicately pressed together and held up as if you’re describing that exquisite dish you recently had and are contemplating ways to adequately describe it.

Now, imagine someone is doing that whilst talking about your CX programme.

This might seem unlikely, but why does it have to seem impossible for colleagues in your organisation talk about your initiative that way? I firmly believe that should be your ambition.

Why? Because your programme will be better in its set-up and approach. Because it will gain a bigger following in your organisation, and therefore better results. Because it challenges you to think bigger and be more ambitious.

All of that starts by giving it a name – a good name.

Let’s start with some pseudo-statistics. I estimate 99 percent of CX programmes do not have a name (yes, I made up that percentage).

Let’s be clear: a CX programme should not be a description! It should not be a functional summary of the activities you do. As with the W154, attaching a name to it can help you signify or evoke a feeling or emotion that instantly shows people what you’re about.

Consider, for instance, if you named your programme ‘Heartbeat’. It has the connotation of listening to customers, finding their pulse, aiming for their hearts.

Finger on the pulse: A good name can evoke your desire for great CX

It opens up loads of possibilities for programme visuals and sparks new initiatives that fit this theme, including actually visiting a hospital to view how they treat patients and then challenge participants to apply those learnings to what you’re trying to achieve with customers.

Looking for names shouldn’t be confined to the overall programme – it can be used for any of your initiatives within it.

What’s stopping you from calling your workshop a ‘Bootcamp’? Notice how immediately it gives off a wholly different vibe and sets other expectations? It most certainly will draw in a different crowd.

Calling your report a ‘Compass’ symbolises an essential guide for the organisation on route to their destination. You can easily see the visual as a logo, perhaps combined with some wild waterways, mountain peaks, or any other metaphorical hardship to overcome in your quest for customer centricity. It sets the stage to focus on the journey, rather than ‘scores-only’.

How about calling a training course ‘Black Label’ training? How cool is that? Imagine the visuals you can use. You name your training that and I guarantee it will cause a stir, with people wanting to know more and ‘be a part of it’.

Do this and you will have created something that transcends the actual, functional content of the training. It’s a thing, a movement, something extraordinary!

Of course, you’ll have to make sure to apply this thinking to the content of the training as well. It should match the promise you made, just as any content should reflect what it says on the wrapper. But giving an apt name, a name that evokes a feeling, is the way to start this whole process.

Easier said then done you might say. Where do I find names like that? Well, the answer is all around you.

Just take notice of some remarkable, funny, interesting, awful, gritty or poetic names you come across in daily life. Anything goes, but for now, from the many examples available, let’s look at bottles.

Yes, bottles.

Manufacturers of champagne offer a ‘Magnum’ containing an amount equal to two regular bottles. Most of us will know that.

Cheers: Champagne makers use exotic names for bottle sizes to great effect

There is also a whole range increasing in size that comes after, and with increasingly fantastical names: the ‘Jeróboam’ (equal to four bottles); the ‘Salmanazar’ (12 bottles); the ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ (20 bottles); and the biggest one of all, containing a stunning 30 litres of champagne (or the volume of 40 regular bottles), is called ‘Melchizedek’, or sometimes the ‘Midas’.


The story states that King Midas turned everything he touched into gold, and it’s this image of over-the-top riches and grandeur that’s so befitting for such a huge bottle of champagne.

The lesson here? A well-chosen name evokes more than just content and functionality, and is an incredible card to play.

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