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Business Comment

James Moore: What's in a name? Yell has to tackle its crisis

Outlook Yell has a problem. The stumbling directories business that used to be known as Yellow Pages has become a byword for bad management and bad debt. (It has a mountain of the stuff which needs restructuring. Again.) Not to mention the fact that the internet has presented all sorts of challenges to its business model.

So the board has been faced with a challenge: how to deal with a horrible history that has left your brand looking battered and bruised while your investors and business partners quietly make for the exit.

Hard option A involves sitting down and putting your MBAs to work by coming up with ways to pep up your business. This takes time and effort, but if you get the right answers it works like nothing else. Easy option B involves throwing a truckload of money at a branding agency to come up with a new name in the hope that everyone will think you are a new company and thus forget about your past problems.

The fact that Yell will be known as Hibu, pronounced (no, really) High-Boo, tells you which option it went for. In explaining what must be the silliest name for a business, chief executive Mike Pocock had the front to suggest Google and Yahoo might have sounded a bit silly when they started out. But surely not nearly as silly as Hibu. Not even close.

Sorry Mr Pocock. Changing the name to Hibu isn't going to stop people Yelling about how bad your business is.