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Can rebranding shed all negativity?

A ROSE by any other name would smell as sweet, wrote William Shakespeare, who knew a thing or two about the human condition, and evidently regarded himself as something of a gardening guru.

It's a line spouted by Juliet, in which she argues that the names of things do not matter, only what they actually are.

She was a Capulet, though. I guess the people at the Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank, must be Montuagues. For they beg to differ.

According to a report in yesterday's Herald, they're proposing that the employment services arm of Jobcentres be rebranded as Citizen Support, "to reduce the stigma attached to it".

Would it, though? Was the Bard of Avon talking through his hat? Would a new name make all the difference?

Admittedly, it didn't do much good for the old Post Office Group as was, which infamously changed its name to Consignia in 2001.

That was Consiginiad to the dustbin of history a year later. These days, we know it as Royal Mail.

It worked a treat, though, for Google. In 1995, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on an internet search engine, and named their invention BackRub.

That title, fortunately, was ditched in 1997. I know many a political journalist who would have had a nervous breakdown in the late 1990s if they'd been asked to BackRub Michael Portillo.

Similarly, we might not be willing to shell out silly money for a Lucky Goldstar television, but an LG one - the name given to the brand in 1995 - has a certain cachet.

And is anyone driving a Nissan who wouldn't have been seen dead in a Datsun? Maybe, then, the name does matter, and we might be happier going home to break the news that we'd been called to a meeting and told to report to Citizen Support first thing Monday.

Perhaps others might follow suit. Is it time for HMRC, a four-letter word in more ways than one, to become the Citizens Financial Restraint Facilitation Service? And could HM Prisons be better served as Her Majesty's Centres for Prescribed Residential Care?

Of course, once this thing starts, there will be no stopping the politicians. David Cameron, for example, might be advised to change his name by deed poll to something that the focus groups would reckon to be more trustworthy and user-friendly. Prime Minister Michael Palin, anyone?

As for me, I'm having none of it. I'll be asking for a packet of Opal Fruits until the day I die.

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