Britain’s Yell Group, which publishes Yellow Pages directories but prefers to call itself “a leading provider of digital services within the emerging local eMarketplace for consumers and SMEs”—aren’t you glad you asked?—will henceforth be known as Hibu.
The name was developed by global branding giant Landor after a five-month exploration. What does it mean? Nothing.
Here’s how the Telegraph reported the news:
Mike Pocock, chief executive, said the company needed to find a new name because it was “viewed as a dinosaur”, but admitted that hibu was “just a word” with no real meaning.
“Don’t read anything into it...It doesn’t have any pure meaning behind it,” he said. “It needed to be short, easy to pronounce and to sound edgy and innovative. It doesn’t mean a lot by itself, but if you turn the clock back, neither did Apple [sic] and Google or Yahoo!”
Or, say, Hulu.
As Yell Group, the company had a clever if vestigial linguistic connection to “Yellow.” It also had a lot of debt. It undertook the rebranding, Pocock told the Evening Standard, because “Yell had low awareness online, especially among those aged under 35.”
Hibu—the company prefers to spell it with all lower-case letters, but they aren’t the boss of me—is pronounced “high-boo.” Despite the don’t-read-anything-into-it directive, the marketing department has labored mightily to do exactly the opposite. This is from the Our New Brand page of the corporate website:
What’s the thinking behind the brand identity?
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.
Thanks to Benjamin Lukoff of the American Name Society email list for the tip.