Brand name 2000 nears sell-by date

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IT IS NOT just computers that will bug some companies when 2000 arrives: those businesses who, in an excess of visionary spirit, attached the crucial number 2000 to their name are now in tortured discussions about what to call themselves on 1 January 2000, writes Mark Rowe.

Thirty years ago, it must have seemed a good idea to attach the word 2000 to your company: it embodied an Utopian ideal and linked your business with a seminal point in world history.

Unfortunately, "2000" is about to become as outdated as previous in-vogue brand titles as "Imperial" or "Colonial", says Wally Olins, of the design consultancy Wolff Olins. "It will look daft if they don't change," he said.

Among those searching for a new name is the UK-Japan 2000 group which promotes good relations between the countries.

However, environmental transport campaigners Transport 2000 has decided to keep its name, preferring to devote its energies and resources to tackling traffic problems.

Another company that has chosen to stick with its name is Twentieth Century Fox. As a spokeswoman put it: "It's a trademark, it's what we are and everyone recognises it."

In general, though, companies that do not change their name risk a limited shelf life, said Simon Luke, director of brand names at Interbrand Newell and Sorrell design consultants. "The name will pick up on all the excitement of the moment but will quickly become dated and lose its cutting edge," he said.