Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should #usguys change its name in order to be perceived as more inclusive?

I introduced you to #usguys in the previous post. Now I am going to talk about a subject that we have been tasked with blogging about, discussing. #usguys is not a gender specific group, even though it may come across that way, nor does it require any specific nationality even though it says US right there in the hashtag, but our leadership believes that it may give that impression, and I agree. I would never have suggested that the name be changed, but I will support such a decision, and here is why.

Web sites often use a heatmap of clicks to show what draws the eye primarily. in #usguys it is the collective guys.Tue Feb 08 07:37:24 via TweetDeck

which is primarily a male collective, secondly a neutral collective. After you locate guys, you see us. #usguys is not a common useTue Feb 08 07:37:58 via TweetDeck

@robertheadley of the vernacular so you associate us as the abrev US or United States. So you think United States Guys. #usguysTue Feb 08 07:38:23 via TweetDeck

@robertheadley Gender Biased and nationality biased. It isn't, but that is how it is associated. #usguysTue Feb 08 07:38:47 via TweetDeck

I did a few simple Google searches to illustrate my point. A search for "us guys" brings up 2.6 million hits. Not bad, seems popular enough. However a Google Search for "you guys" a more common use of the vernacular or colloquialism and you get 460 million results. That is roughly 178 times more common. When people see #usguys their mind first latches on to guys, then us is remaining. Since "us guys" is 178 times less common, they assume its an abbreviation and therefore United States. So to a casual observeror, #usguys looks like United States guys, a xenophobic, gender biased group. It is absolutely not that.

For this reason I support changing the name to something less easily confused as bias. After all, your name is your first line of fire when attracting new customers. #usguys is a brand. Just like you are a brand, and your company's name is a brand. If you wan't to sell hamburgers, you don't name your restaurant Waffle Hut, and if you don't want to limit your membership, you don't use a name that is easily confused as something other than it is. Everything is a brand, treat it like it is.


  1. I've come a bit late to the party, but people tweeting on this are being encouraged to comment on the post, so here goes. Obviously I can't speak for women's views but for what it's worth, as I have already tweeted, in Australia people have been saying for years "you guys" to refer to anyone in the vicinity, men and women, old and young, so I don't see there is necessarily a problem with "us guys". I think the last time I heard anyone question that usage was about 10 years ago, maybe more. So "guys" is embedded here and fwiw I notice a lot of Australian women of various ages use the term as non gender specific. As to the "us" bit, yes at first I wondered whether that was US as in USA but then investigated and worked out it wasn't. I was attracted to the thread/community because I saw positive, nay, enthusiastic tweets about it. It could have been called anything for that matter: it was the sense that here was a community having interesting conversations that I found attractive. My suggestion is that if it can't be firmly established that for the existing community the name is clearly misogynistic and/or xenophobic, it's not necessary to change it.

  2. So... your primary motivation for changing the name is to make it harder to gain exposure via Google search by dumping #usguys into a deeper pool to swim out of?

    A term 178x less common means that it's 178x easier to make the top of the rankings for that search term.

    The only confusion seems to exist in the definition of branding.

  3. Everything is a brand, my definition is correct. I am merely suggesting that we rename our brand to something more perceivably inclusive.

  4. I have been looking at Naming for my SXSW topic on Native American Tribalism and how it relates to the use of Tribes in the Social Media space. Renaming to show transition is a common and powerful tool prevalent in Native American cultures. I think it is a valuable tradition.

    There is no doubt there are problems with the name #usguys. The only debate is the degree to which it is an issue. The fact that folks feel so strongly about it is an indication that there is already a high degree of identification with the group. That is a good thing. It is also a problem that folks will get over.

    I think what you bring up here is valid: Brand. It should be about what #usguys wants to be, is becoming.

    Rename, mark the transition, embrace it!