What's in a name?

Harriet Green
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WHEN this big retail merger is finalised, the combined group will be known as Dixons Carphone. But why are they hanging onto the Carphone bit when no-one has one anymore? The first car phone was used in St Louis on 17 June 1946. It had three channels and weighed 36kg. Six years ago, analog cellular service, which the phones use, was discontinued entirely in the US, with just a handful of products left on the market. Carphone Warehouse was founded back in 1989, but within five years the firm had branched out into insurance products, and two years after that it had moved outside the UK – it wasn’t selling just car phones for very long. But Dixons name inception is even more interesting, harkening back, in a bizarre coincidence, to the same era as the car phone. It was chosen at random from something many of us probably forget existed: the telephone directory. Sticking together the names ensures knowledge of their past stays around for a bit longer. It’s also more than likely that the dead meaning that comes about with everyday usage will continue with Dixons Carphone. Did any of us ever say “Carphone Warehouse” and picture a business magnate in the back of a chauffeured Rolls – big telephone, even bigger braces? People aren’t going to wonder who Dixon is or was, they’ll accept the name if they like the brand and what it stands for.

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