In the Trenches: Should We Drop the ‘Dork’?

When I first started Cranky Concierge, I wanted to stay away from traditional titles. So, although I did name myself president of the company, I also gave myself the title of chief airline dork. A recent email from a client made me wonder whether the latter is something I should now change.

The idea behind the “dork” title was to show that those of us who work here are really airline people. We’re the kind of people who love and understand the industry — exactly who you want on your side when you fly. The title also flaunts the more playful side of the company. I didn’t build Cranky Concierge to become a big, stuffy corporate entity. We never take ourselves too seriously, which, of course, is different from taking our work seriously.

For the most part, the “dork” title gets chuckles from people, and it starts a conversation. It never seemed to be a hindrance until I received the recent email. The client, who had come to us via a partner travel agency, wrote:

When you are dealing with travel agency referrals, you might consider dropping the chief dork nonsense. You do not look professional.

Like I said, nobody had ever complained about it before, so I was naturally skeptical about whether “dropping the chief dork” was worth considering. But the client does have a point when it comes to agency referrals.

Every travel agency caters to a different kind of client, and this particular partner has a fairly formal “personality.” The agency has even suggested that we change our company name. My response then was the same as it is now: If the relationship becomes large enough to justify the extra work, I will be more than happy to create a private-label service with a different name to cater to the agency’s clients. But that’s a big-picture solution if and when our relationship grows.

Meanwhile, removing the “dork” from the signature file on any emails we send to the agency’s clients is pretty easy to do. But should we do this? Is it worth changing how we represent ourselves, or should we simply let our work speak for itself? I’m always open to revisiting any issue, but I’m hesitant to make a change based on one person’s feedback.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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10 comments
Matt Gulino
Matt Gulino

Some people actually distinguish between 'dork' and 'geek'.  You might get the same effect with a less negative connotation if you switched to 'geek', but this would probably not appease the person who e-mailed you.

crankyconcierge
crankyconcierge

Thanks for chiming in everyone.  For the most part, I don't think it has hurt us.  I think it's likely helped us by helping to set expectations about who we really are.  But anytime someone brings up a point like this, it seems like it's worth revisiting just to make sure we aren't making a mistake.  

MSPlanecrazy
MSPlanecrazy

I think you should keep the names the same. Since you started Cranky Concierge and named yourself the Dork that is what people like myself are used to. Until now no one has complained, or told you how to run your blog. Or if they have I don't recall any of your posts recently that mentioned name changing.

 

Please don't give in to changing names just because someone else outside of your blog thinks they need too be changed just because they don't like them, or that they are formal enough. Many companies have catchy names that may not appeal to everyone, but they can easily be remebered by the consumer because of their unique name. It's your blog; you should be able to use any names that you want to use.

markpappai
markpappai

Best Buy has the "Geek Squad", a group who are experts with technology and are proudly promoted. I would say your titles are much the same. You have a specific set of skills in an industry you follow very closely. I know in my dealings with your company you and your staff are nothing but professional, the measure people are really looking at. A title is just a title, own it and be proud!

thetravelanalyst
thetravelanalyst

I agree with the idea of creating a separate brand identity should the extra income you would receive by doing so justify it.  You have a brand identity that is doing well; and it seems a number of people rather (a) appreciate that you don't take yourself too seriously, or (b) don't care because you're giving them great service.  At the end of the day, the quality of your work speaks for itself.  True, branding and identity play a large role in this, but it's really hard to argue against stellar service.

Ed Kelty
Ed Kelty

There may be an age or generational issue here. I am old enough that I think "dork" refers to someone a lot younger than myself who has real computer and other skills. In other words, "savvy!."

 

Perhaps the complaining agency is in a mid-life crisis.

cook
cook

The writer may - or may not - have a point.  As another commenter asks, how does the 'dork' affect your business?  Including the word suggests a degree of informality in the business relationship, one probably welcomed by some.   I also agree with the original point that it IS a but unprofessional.  Personally, I would not use it, but I'm a generation or two older than you and your staff.  Best advice:  For the moment do nothing.  If the subject ever comes up again, in any context, the 'dork' should instantly vanish.  From another perspective, your existing clients (often called the Golden Repeat Business) have become repeat customers based upon service and performance.  If any potential new clients have passed on making that critical, first contact, I guess you'll never know.  You might also ask yourself, "Does including 'dork' add anything of value to our business image, other that a mostly inside, self-satisfying chuckle?" If yes, keep it.  If no, lose it.  One dork to another, I hope the foregoing helps.  -C.

Gordon
Gordon

I would venture to say most of us do not mind, and in fact like the "dork" title, because most of us "get it."  I suppose the decision to keep or drop will have to be made if there is growing evidence that the name is actually costing you business.  I am sure there are some "up tight" corporate travel coordinators who would question doing business with that word in the title, but how much do they affect your bottom line?

christophernull
christophernull moderator

I think you should force everyone to have "Dork" in their title.

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