My wife’s name is Cathy Heng, except it isn’t, her name is Heng Siew Keow.

But in Singapore, where she went to school, the English teachers couldn’t remember all the Chinese names.

So the teachers picked names they could remember.

Siew Keow, Siew Hong, and Siew Cheng (my wife and her sisters) became Cathy, Bebe, and Betty.

And that’s how they’ve been known ever since.

Not by names the Chinese family and their Taoist temple gave them.

But by names that worked for the target market: the teachers.

It was the same with Cathy’s two brothers: Boon Huat and Boon Heng became Tony and Alex.

Because that was what the English teachers could remember.

The same thing even happened to Cathy’s mum.

Her Chinese name is Lan Cheng, this was shortened to LC (Elsie) which became her name ever since.

And that’s the way it works. We have to come off broadcast and go on receive.

We have to consider what works with our target market before we consider what we want.

If you’ve ever named a child, you know this.

Our children’s Chinese names are Hui Leng and Meng Chai, but that was never going to work in London. So we christened them Jade and Lee.

You have to consider the audience, the target market, or you lose control of it.

My Uncle was christened Henry, but everyone called him Harry.

He didn’t like that name so he changed it to Robert, everyone called him Bob.

My dad’s name was John, so everyone called him Jack.

My mum’s name was Ellen, so everyone called her Nelly.

My aunt’s name was Mary, so everyone called her Polly.

That’s what people do. What matters isn’t what we want.

What matters is what the target market wants.

If we don’t accept that, we lose control of our communication.

I saw this in action years ago when I was a junior at BMP.

Courage had a draught beer called Tavern that was dying.

It was a good beer, the advertising was good, but whatever we tried sales were going down.

Planning decided to get upstream of the problem.

They went into pubs and watched how people ordered draught beer.

They found it was very important, at the point of purchase, for a drinker to demonstrate familiarity with their pint.

The problem was Tavern had been named without considering how people would ask for it.

And asking for ‘a pint of Tavern’ just sounded too pompous.

And they wouldn’t ask for ‘a pint of Tav’.

Sales dropped off as people stopped asking for it.

So it was renamed to something people could adapt, it was called ‘John Courage’.

This meant people could ask for ‘a pint of JC’ at the bar.

Much less formal, much more friendly.

Sales took off, and the identical beer went from a failure to a success.

Just by starting with what people wanted to hear instead of just what wewanted to say.

How to control the communication is to come off broadcast and go on receive.