When it comes to names and logos, people get weird. Emotional. They either hate them or love them. Become attached to or can’t stand the sight of them. Rarely are they indifferent about the one thing they should be indifferent about since, for the most part, they make little difference.

And yet …

Volkswagon just changed its logo. The new one looks just like the old one except it’s flatter with thinner lines. I understand the German auto maker is trying to signal a change – to put the Diesel scandal in the rearview mirror and ignite a new era of electric cars – but still. It’s what’s under the hood that matters, no?

Turns out, I go way back with names and logos. Some of those memories are fond, others still haunt me.

The first startup company that hired me as an executive was Stac Electronics. Soon after launching Stacker, we went public. Then Microsoft crushed us. Sigh. Good times. Great product name and logo — known as a word mark, which I prefer. You got the message loud and clear.

A few years later I joined Cyrix, a microprocessor company that competed with Intel and AMD. Loved the name and the logo.

As for the name that one of our founders came up with for our new flagship processor, 6×86, not so much. Try to say it five times fast. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue now does it?

And the company that acquired us, National Semiconductor, yikes! Was that a hideous logo or what? Someone once said it looked like a Klingon symbol.

I was involved in naming one of the merged company’s processors, Geode. It’s still around. How do I feel about that? Meh. National sold the technology to AMD. They sold it to someone else I think. Whatever.

The last tech company I worked for was Rambus. Everyone hated Rambus. My job was to rebrand the company and change its image. We considered changing the name, but concluded it was best to leverage the name recognition and change what it stood for – from evil to good, as it were. And it worked. Go figure.

Of course we also changed the logo because, well, the old one was hideous. Judge for yourself; that’s the old one on the right, new one below. Am I right?

I could go on with this trip down memory lane but the point is this. Names and logos can make a difference if they’re done right, as part of a brand strategy that makes sense. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, at least in my experience. And even when they do matter, names and logos rarely matter as much as marketers think they do.

Back to the title question, what’s in a name … or a logo? Not nearly as much as you’d think.