An intranet named Hernandez, or just Intranet

The naming of an intranet can be a contentious issue, but it can also inspire joy and awe. I was reminded of this last night after a long twitter exchange with intranet tweeps from across the globe as we reflected on how much we liked Arthur, the name of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants aka ACCA’s new intranet.

Hello my name is…. intranet? (by Robert Occhialini CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr)

To the best of my knowledge there is no intranet named Hernandez. In my experience it is less common for an intranet to be personified with a people name and even less so for it to have a character to match. Intranet Matters have compiled a list of cool intranet names, which they continue to add to based on feedback to their blog (if you have a cool intranet name, submit it to their list!). I have very unscientifically dropped that list into a word cloud to see what words were commonly being used. Because this list doesn’t feature any intranet actually named Intranet the word is noticeably absent. What you will note is that the word Connect features very heavily and then behind it are similar words such as Link, Compass and Voyager.

My very un-scientific analysis of Intranet Matters intranet names list.
My very un-scientific analysis of Intranet Matters intranet names list.

What is so important about naming your intranet? It is a great way to give it an identity and allow people to relate to it. Just naming something after the software which it runs on or on its generic technology can be a cause of disconnect for users. The naming of the intranet can be used as part of the change management process for a new intranet by involving stakeholders in the decision and it is ultimately a great marketing tool that can be tied into associated communications.

Giving an intranet a people name is probably the best way to achieve instant identity and memorability. In the case of Arthur from ACCA, the name Arthur relates to the name of their first company president. Tied in with a very cute character Arthur is an effective way to inject personality into an intranet. My personal favourite intranet with a people name is ‘Alfie’ from The Audit Office. Alfie is the ultimate persona, a clever little character who is dressed like a stereotypical auditor, even down to the red marker they commonly use.

From the other intranets and systems that I know of that have stylised names it seems most common to name an intranet by competition, committee or a combination of both. This serves the purpose of getting buy-in from the business or at least key stakeholders. The results will depend on the organisation and rightly will often reflect the organisational culture.

But is it necessary to name EVERY intranet? I say no. That is the decision we made very early on in our intranet project. Our organisation is all too familiar with the concept of naming systems. We have plenty of them with names ranging from straight out system names, to acronyms and stylised names. While change management is important for our intranet project we (the steering committee of business representatives) felt that with the inundation of names for systems we were best off leaving our intranet with the name ‘Intranet’ and then focusing on our features, benefits and visual design for a point of difference.

I don’t think this is the answer for all organisations, but it works for us, and I think that is the point. The name of your intranet should ultimately reflect your organisational culture, the drivers of your intranet and what the users will enjoy and relate to.

If you are searching for advice about naming your intranet check out these handy articles:

Authors note: Big thanks to Steve, Stuart, Alex, Sharon, Melissa and Lyn with whom I enjoyed interesting twitter discussion on intranet names. Not only was this post inspired as a result of that conversation but the challenge has now been issued for the first intranet (that we know of) named Hernandez. 

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