You probably remember the story about the guy who’s sent to prison and, on his first night behind bars, is baffled when his cellmate shouts out “TWELVE!” and is greeted with raucous laughter. Another inmate shouts “TWENTY-TWO!” and gets the same reaction. Up and down the cellblock: “THREE!” “FOURTEEN!” “THIRTY-ONE!” followed by peals of laughter. Finally the new guy asks his cellmate what the numbers mean. “We’ve been in here so long that we’ve heard everyone’s jokes,” the cellmate explains. “So we just call them out by number.”
Naturally, the new guy wants to fit in. So several nights later, when there’s a pause in the numerical call-and-response, he shouts “NINE!” And … silence, punctuated by groans. “Why isn’t anyone laughing?” he asks his cellmate. “Well,” says the old-timer, “some people can tell a joke, and some people can’t.”
That’s sort of how I feel about numerical brand names. Some of them can carry off the bold move into all-digit branding, and some can’t.
Take, for example, 605.