Heinrich, or the importance of naming

If something is going to be widely used in your organization, please take the time to think of a name for it.

Johan Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who began the transformation of education in Switzerland in the 18th Century. According to Wikipedia, thanks to Pestalozzi illiteracy in Switzerland was overcome almost completely by 1830.

Our kids study at a Pestalozzi school. Overall, we are happy with the school, and the philosophy behind it. The school motto, learning by head, hand, and heart is taken from Pestalozzi’s approach to education.

That said…

The school has a system that sends an email to the parents when the student forgets to do homework, gets distracted during class, or somehow crosses a line. In theory, the system can be used also for recognizing and praising your kids’ achievements, but in those cases, the teachers prefer to send a handwritten note in the kid’s agenda instead of a computer-generated email. In practice, this system is used for admonishing, and receiving one of these emails is not a good thing.

One thing that annoys me about the system is the branding. I guess the system was probably developed in-house by the IT staff. With little branding or marketing sense, someone decided that the emails to parents would be send from the unattended mailbox heinrich@pestalozzi..., after Pestalozzi’s first name.

You are already guessing how the story goes. After some years of use, the system is known as “Heinrich”. Parents, students, and teachers refer to those emails as ‘Heinrichs’. Like in “Those who don’t finish their homework before the deadline will receive a Heinrich.” Or “My friend received a Heinrich because he was distracted by a squirrel at the window1 .”

Names are important for a reason. We assign them meaning. Be professional and do the work.

  1. Totally real case. ↩︎

Pestalozzi schooling branding marketing

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