Jo Brand: It's time I rebranded: I think I'll go for success and raunchiness

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The Independent Online

As a rather tired old brand myself, no one is more aware than I am of the possibilities of slipping out of my worn-out alternative-comedy image and rising phoenix-like from the flames of my previous career to embrace the new, 21st century me. I could be popular with all, from pro-hanging psychograndmas to you assorted Eminem apologists ("Slap another ho' in the boot Marshall,we're all off to lynch some queers!").

As a rather tired old brand myself, no one is more aware than I am of the possibilities of slipping out of my worn-out alternative-comedy image and rising phoenix-like from the flames of my previous career to embrace the new, 21st century me. I could be popular with all, from pro-hanging psychograndmas to you assorted Eminem apologists ("Slap another ho' in the boot Marshall,we're all off to lynch some queers!").

I could call myself something more "now" and more feminine - "Kate" perhaps, or "Victoria" - and add a surname that smacks of success, sex appeal and raunchiness. I could transform myself into the commercial, ballsy, vacuous überprincess I secretly long to be and look coquettishly down my cleavage. I could acquire some clothes that don't look like I've just cleaned a cat's bum with them, which may deflect the vitriol directed at me by those women who like to look after themselves.

However, having gone to all this effort, I just know I would attempt a triumphant, rebranded re-entry on some Wintonesque extravaganza only to hear a resounding echo of "Fat dyke off Channel 4!" This is because I have a sneaking suspicion that rebranding might just be a bit of a cosmetic exercise - if not a multimillion-pound masturbatory waste of time and money - designed solely to occupy the perfumed hordes of PR people who like to pull the wool over the eyes of clients and public alike.

Let's take the Post Office, which has renamed itself "Consignia" this week, because apparently we trust the word "consign". Do we? The phrase that springs immediately to my mind is "consigned to the dustbin of history". But no, when we phone directory enquiries to ask for Consignia, we will apparently be fired with a new enthusiasm for postal orders, leaflets about pensions and even start to admire the driving skills of Post Office van operators which are normally reminiscent of the Keystone Cops.

But let's get one thing straight from the start: we don't actually have to call our local post offices "Consignias" (phew!). Apparently, we just get to look at the name and new logo on the vans and various bits of stationery, as a warmth spreads through us and we begin to trust again.

Just how thick do these rebranders think the public are? Fairly, possibly, considering we've already swallowed a fair amount of crap, such as the ridiculous renaming of certain water companies which ensure we sometimes end up swallowing real crap if their maintenance standards aren't too hot. Is the rebranding of a flawed organisation really all it takes for us to live with it comfortably again? If Railtrack renamed itself "Really Nice and Actually Quite Competent", and came up with a logo of a teddy, would the punters come flooding back?

Is there not some sort of arena in which those of us that could be bothered could complain that we think Consignia is a bloody stupid name and get across the message that we'd rather not be heard using it in front of other sentient human beings? No, of course there isn't, because the decision has already been made. I'd much rather the new name had been arrived at as the result of a Blue Peter competition, because even a nipper from the Home Counties could have come up with a better effort than Consignia, even if it did suit the Blue Peter tortoise better. Come to think of it, a tortoise's name would do very well for Consignia's second-class post arm.

I suggest that the public would be much happier if, rather than spending half a million to come up with a meaningless yet apparently appealing rebrand, PR companies could come up with a name that was positive yet truly reflected the shortcomings of the company. One that would make us, the public, sceptical yet somehow full of a grudging respect for their honesty. For example, we could have Air Traffic Control, shortly to be privatised, rebranded as "All the Excitement of a Possible Mid-Air Collision", or NHS trusts as "If You Can Read Our Name At Least You're Not Dead".

So much of our sad little world these days seems to be about papering over the cracks or tackling the problems so superficially that nothing is ever truly improved. Here's a revolutionary idea on encouraging people to use crumbling, useless organisations. Why not, instead of rebranding a flagging company, have a look at the problems it suffers from and try and sort them out to the satisfaction of potential customers? Oh, I feel almost weak after coming up with that winner. For the Post Office, you might try re-educating drivers to remember they're not taking part in the Rally of Great Britain, asking postmen not to leave parcels outside houses under cars, and asking parcel depots to open outside working hours when people have time to collect parcels.

I think I may for once answer my own question and decide that it's all to do with money. Truly changing the nature of a profit-making organisation and improving customer service costs a huge amount more than most companies are prepared to spend, so half a million is peanuts to them, relatively speaking. And as far as the reaction of the public goes, if you need any assurance that many are functioning with the short-term memory of a goldfish, just observe the quiz on Good Morning with Richard and Judy. You might catch me, Britney Van Smillie, trying to relaunch my telly career.

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