Delivering a new name

Companies and restaurants have been adopting new logos, altering store designs and changing names for decades, but in an effort to attract more customers, some get a little too carried away.

Such seems to be the case with Pizza Hut, which has adopted “The Hut” as its new title.

On the outside, it seems as if The Hut is just following in the footsteps of retail giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. (known to most as “Sears”) and federal bank Washington Mutual, Inc., which recently changed its identifier to WaMu – a name much easier for teens to type in text messages.

And it’s no secret that the name was purposely shortened..

“That ties in with (today’s) texting generation,” said chief marketing officer Brian Niccol to Brandweek. “As we expand our online and mobile businesses, ‘The Hut’ is the perfect icon for our mobile generation.”

And for teens either obsessed with texting or unwilling to employ proper English, The Hut may soon be known as “Da Hut.” That’ll shave off a total of three valuable characters per text message.

With the loss of one syllable, The Hut might also be an easier name to pronounce for youngsters just learning to walk and talk – thus attracting customers on the very cusp of consumerism.

Word choice must be considered carefully when naming a business, and marketing to adults as well as children can be tough. Additionally, “Pizza Hut” is such a constricting name. It makes hungry consumers think of, well, pizza. Using “the” as an adjective makes so much more sense, and allows The Hut to offer more food choices without added confusion.

Name changes also bring more interest and publicity to a company. Media coverage, small talk and advertisements all add up and can generate more revenue for the brand. The confusion around The Hut’s name change generated a lot of press coverage because the company seems to keep going back and forth, unable to decide whether to change the name.

“To the loyal fans of Pizza Hut and pizza lovers around the world, we’re happy to tell you that nothing is changing – we’re still Pizza Hut, America’s favorite pizza,” Niccol said in a statement on June 20.

However, transformations to “The Hut” can be seen on boxes around the country, including those in Tampa.

The first store renovation occurred in Jacksonville on Friday – a move that cost $6 million, according to The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville will reportedly serve as a testing ground for the chain, and if sales increase, the name change may spread to other locations.

“The name we go by needs to be broader because of what we offer food-wise,” said Pat Murtha, Pizza Hut’s chief operating officer. “There is more than just pizza under the Hut.”

Hopefully, the increased awareness will make up for the cost of hiring artists and graphic designers for a new logo, sign manufacturers to replace the old neons and
distributors to bring new materials to stores. Oh, and don’t forget the new facade, updated flooring, sports decor and big-screen TVs.

If all the hooplah doesn’t attract more customers and sales, though, two fewer
letters inked on a few million cardboard boxes is bound to shed some expense.