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Naming Info

Naming Info

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In business, a name is the easiest thing to hate.

To dispute Facebook's ethics, you have to read about its behavior. To dislike a BlackBerry phone, you have to experience it. But to hate the name "Facebook" or "BlackBerry" requires no more than hearing the word and forming an opinion. "Naming a brand isn't like naming a baby," says Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer at Landor, which has named hundreds of products, including BlackBerry PlayBook and Delta SkyMiles. Since everybody feels qualified to instantly judge a name, it is all the more important for brands to pay close attention (and a little extra cash) for a name that resonates with their consumers across the world. There are no universal rules for finding a perfect name. Instead, there is a process. To understand the secrets of naming, The Atlantic gained access to exclusive presentations and documents laying out the exhaustive process undergone at Landor, one of the most prestigious naming firms in the country. THE SCIENCE OF NAMING When you're naming a new product, Roth tells me, it often helps to speak with a familiar voice. For example, Apple's mobile products all begin with a lower-case i (iPad, iPod, iPhone). BlackBerry phones are strong onesyllable words (Bold, Storm, Curve). BMW has a numeric system that places every car in its hierarchy, while many Ford cars begin with the letter F (Fiesta, Focus, F-150). Landor begins with a "creative brief" to set the parameters for each brand. Should the name be long or short? Should it be abstract (like Prius), suggestive (like Flickr), or descriptive (like PlayStation)? Should it it be a real word (like Old Spice Swagger), a compound (like AmeriTech) or a new word (like Kazaa)? Based on the brief, Landor creates a long list of hundreds of names and concepts, which are narrowed down for legal vetting. The initial recommendation to clients includes the best names that cleared legal, plus some alternatives. To bring the names to life, Landor includes creative elements to provide some relevant context, such as sample product labels or merchandise. Good names comes in all shapes and sizes as the matrix below indicates. But sometimes the naming process goes horribly awry. For your consideration: Pschitt, a French softdrink; Fartek, a Swedish babywear product; and Cat Crap, a lens cleaner in Japan. Forty years ago, cross-cultural comparisons of names was a smart extra step. Today, Roth says, it's mandatory diligence. WHAT'S NOT IN A NAME A brand's name is its face for the world. But a flawless name can't save a flawed product, just like a controversial name won't sink a juggernaut. "I was interviewed multiple times when iPad was announced because it sounded to everybody like feminine products," Roth says. "I was asked, 'Is this a disaster? Will it sink Apple?' I said it fit with their conventions. A week later, people saw the product and nobody asked the question again." Now consider the iPad's latest rival, the BlackBerry PlayBook, which is Landor's latest high-profile name. Roth, who did not personally work on the name, said he was proud of the final product, which trades on the company's professional heritage. "It has the word play, but it's a tool about work," Roth says. "When you want to achieve victory somewhere, you talk about a game plan. A playbook. It reflects the professional nature of the product." The reviews for BlackBerry PlayBook have been fairly consistent: It's a decent product with a thin selection of apps that doesn't quite live up to the iPad. Some critics have taken issue with the latest ad campaign announcing "Amateur hour is over. The BlackBerry PlayBook is here."

No matter what. the general public added their wisdom in naming contests. often with a sprinkling of college talent." When faced with the challenge of naming. business service.000-$100. I send my sympathy. It will cost some bucks. Whatever you spend. The name came in a dream to Jeff Johnson. Hire a professional naming company and expect a bill of $10. and luck has gone professional.S. or will it go global? Remember that today "global" can mean the Internet too. In most cases however. If your brand is properly nourished. or sound-alike name won't necessarily kill a brands chances for success. business owners and management named their offspring. Should you change it? Yes. Nike is Greek for victory and is also the Greek goddess of victory. . consumer product. science." However. it's a good creative exercise about defining your brand essence. piece of manufacturing equipment. but it's also a great opportunity to get a lot of great attention and renewed momentum. It will be plastered on lots of things including your market's mind." he says. If you acquired it. but a lame brand can be scarier! Birthing a brand name The task of developing that killer name has become quite complex. it grows and has a long shelf life or history -. Finally. It beat out Phil Knight's own name change idea of "Dimension 6.000 or more before the graphic execution or production. you can proceed with the grueling task of a name dump of endless possibilities. $35 in 1971 to design the trademark "swoosh. a graphic design student at Portland State University. If you have the budget. Nike's first "real" employee and replaced the original name of Blue Ribbon Sports. the company did pay Carolyn Davidson. even if the names you come up with stink. divide it by the projected years of use and value. They are as valuable as a great employee or. look at the cost versus the benefit and remember that change can be scary. shame on you. This same formula applies for investments in corporate identities and tagline. or event? What is the expected life of the brand name? Does the name fit into a larger family of names? Will it be used only in the U. it dramatically dilutes the brand equity and potency. Who is your primary audience for the brand names? Are you creating a new category or joining an existing one? If joining a category. I'm sure all have produced their share of brilliant names as well as some very scary ones. A bad.Roth disagrees. "The business world is where they have credibility. Do you have a name that basically sucks? If so. skill.do the math. outside input and other naming solutions can also be a valid investment. Remember that the life and benefit of your brand name may last for years. what are your competitors' names? What are the primary strategies for building your brand? Once you've completed your basic criteria or framework. start with your ideas and those of your staff. For years. Ask yourself the following: Who will ultimately decide the name? One person or a team? Whoever that is should be involved in the criteriabuilding process. Whether you decide to outsource or to create on your own name. "But they have to be visible and aggressive because Apple is already considered an alternative in the business environment. What kind of brand are you naming? Company. Now this field of art. Naming brands is big business and can come with a big price tag. Not all great brand names cost a lot Nike is one of the best examples. Weigh it out. So what is a great name worth? The answer: A lot." A great name is like extra octane in a brand. Then creative service firms and ad agencies jumped in. I suggest walking through the following preliminary exercise. boring.

you have created an extensive list of possible contenders. likeability. and Yahoo. and proceed with a choice. I recommend that you test a little. or associations with your name prospect. Fubu. An obscure or unfamiliar word can be a brand home run Consider Apple. Is there a magic. you can organize unscientific opinion polls (i. enlisting strangers in a naming contest. you can salvage or sustain a boring. or literal brand name with some other compelling messaging. Copycat names I also think copycat names or those that sound like a competitor or some other big brand are not worthy of much. Their consistently creative and "on brand" advertising has transformed a somewhat unexciting name into a great brand name. at office gatherings). Names that are hard to spell or pronounce Finally a name should be something most people can spell and certainly pronounce. most companies don't have the luxury of Southwest's media budget or have not engaged a great ad agency like GSDM in Austin. Generally.. Whatever route you take. in bars. I say… Avoid like the plague: Dumb generic names Dumb generic names like Computer Solutions. Take. primarily because I'm a strong proponent of distinctive brands. unless you have a big. for example. be it working with a naming company. Avoiding generics names is also critical in consumer package products. However. acceptance. or Innovative Technologies. You can also conduct focus groups to test reactions further or you can do an expensive quantifiable study to gauge understanding. They are all hugely successful brands but started as small companies. and brand performance. fool-proof method for testing names? No. endless budget. Google.Should a name be literal and descriptive or obscure and emotional? My tendency tilts toward obscure and certainly emotional. In fact. sometimes too much analysis just delays decisions and defeats the whole mission of naming your brand before the next decade. rallying your troops and making it an internal company project. or combining several of these methods. Although not my favorite. Southwest Airlines. Nike. especially when private label copycats by mass retailers are showing up. Now what? More big naming questions How will the market receive the name? With supporting context. listen a little to people you respect. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone. but these names will just make you spend more and work harder at building a brand. generic. They all have visibility and frequency. I also believe each case is unique and sometimes brand names get passed down and changing them would take an act of Congress. literal and descriptive words can work in some brand naming situations. Great Brand Names . a creative consultant. However. brand storytelling communication. Texas. Many times the name can be the strong point of difference. They don't have legs and will likely drown in the sea of sameness. leading to buyer confusion. With that said. If you have a big branding budget. listen to your gut feelings. Performance Printing. though proceed with caution because they can be more easily copied or imitated.e. Such confusion usually defeats the purpose of a sound brand. will the market get it? Will it jive with your strategic positioning of the brand? Are there negative connotations or associations with the name? Is it available to use? On the earth? On the Web? Once you've boiled down the list of prospects. in shopping malls.

You should create a brand name that can stand the test of time. because you never know where the world. Research the Market. With a poor brand name you make the job of getting into the mind that much harder. Identify the Message Your Brand Should Communicate Once you understand what already exists in your market from your competitors and what consumers want from brands in that market. Even the most off-the-wall idea should be accepted and not judged. you can refine your brand position. competitors. Be sure to include consumers and unbiased third parties in your brainstorming process if possible. Identify gaps and opportunities and develop a brand name that fills those gaps and leverages those opportunities. fads. a symbol to your story. Use that position along with your brand promise to develop the best brand name possible. Do your research and learn what brand names your competitors are using and how consumers feel about those brand names. The single most important marketing decision a company can make it what to name a brand.    Are emotional Stick in the brain Have personalities Have depth While the brand name is very important. You never know what crazy thought could spawn the perfect idea! Look at your brand from all angles. and make that list as long as you can. a brand cannot survive on name alone The brand name and how the brand is executed are equally vital for a successful and sustained brand life. so go for quantity. and narrow that list of possible brand names down to 10-20 of the best. A great brand name can serve as the anchor to your cause. identify your brand’s unique personality and create a brand name to match. and Consumers You need to fully understand your market before you can create an effective brand name. Furthermore. a memory trigger. consider all audiences. The 9 keys to naming success. 4. Develop Your Brand Strategy You should not name a brand until you develop your brand strategy. a point of difference in your marketplace. or just one important part of your branding arsenal. brand promise. and so on. Make sure the short list of brand names you create includes names that can last through market changes. the market. consumers. 3. Create a Short List Use that long brainstorming list to develop possible brand names. geographic expansions. Competitors. A brand’s power lies in its ability to grab a position in the mind of the consumer. 5. brand extensions. How can you know if you’re choosing the right brand name if you don’t know what that brand’s unique value proposition. Keep an eye on the AYTM blog for my upcoming post that will focus on research for naming products and brands. trends. . and strategic direction are? 2. Go get you a great one! 1. focus on each benefit. With a great brand name you can help your brand down the road to success. Brainstorm without Judging Gather your team together and start brainstorming! There are no bad ideas this early in the process. and you could go in years to come.

TIAA-CREF. One way to achieve this is by shortening the generic for the category. Some powerful brand names include: Lexus. sold 400. . last year. Simple is not the same as short. “Eat your heart out. Soy milk became the brand name Silk. the shorter the better. A generic name is not as powerful as a proper name. simple. Key #2: Simple. The 9 keys that follow will help you pick the best name possible for your brand. Kleenex. Deloitte & Touche.It’s not that a brand with a poor name won’t ever succeed. Red Bull. Palm. If you price something cheap enough. Key #5: Alliterative. Google and Starbucks. Gap. it will move in spite of a dreadful name. Some examples of names that are too long: Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Google. Bausch & Lomb. The mind works with the sound of words. Apple. Sony. TiVo. Some examples of short names: Tide. PlayStation. Kodak. but it can be an effective way to create one. The best unique names also follow some of the other rules. but it is not a simple name because it uses six letters of the alphabet. Some great and unique brand names: Lexus. The Internet has made this an even more important issue. Rolex. Nissan. Many do. The longer and more complicated a name the more difficult it is to remember. Some suggestive names: Blockbuster Video. Key #3: Suggestive of the category. Crest. Simplicity has to do with the alphabetical construction of a brand name. Mississippi is a long name (11 letters). Don’t expect a name to meet all the nine requirements but if it covers more than a few you’ll know you have a winner. This is one of the reasons it is not particularity easy to spell. SnackWell’s. since a website is the first place many people go to find out more about a brand. but it is also a simple name because it only uses four letters of the alphabet. for example. Why do you think children move their lips when they read? They are converting the visual symbols represented by the letters and words into sounds that can be processed by their brains. I just got myself a 2004 Hyundai?” Is Hyundai a powerful brand? I think not. Which is why most people can spell Mississippi. You create a proper name that is short and easy to remember. Kinko’s. Hennessy. With a website address the less typing the less likely there is for error. But did you ever hear someone say. But a name that is suggestive of the category can help consumers identity what your brand stand for. Xerox. Nike. Schwab is a short name (six letters). In general. and speakable. Roller Blade. A totally unique name can only be created from scratch. Key #1: Short.S. like being short. Some simple brand names: Coca-Cola. Key #4: Unique. Hyundai.221 vehicles in the U. A simple word uses only a few letter of the alphabet and arranges them in a combination that repeat itself. Vanilla cookies became the brand name Nilla. Another way is by using a word out of context that suggests the category. Curves.

it becomes a valuable asset and intellectual property. Amazon. Dasani. Key #6: Speakable. Wonderbra. But how do you get the first mouth moving? You first have to give the mouth something to work with. the name is one of the most important elements of its proposition. Woot. Old Navy. it is very helpful to rhyme something to help people remember it. iPod. Bath & Beyond. Personalizing your brand name enhances the publicity potential of your brand. Yellow Tail. family. . Polo.) Some alliterative names: Gold’s Gym. Subway. Isaac Mizrahi. HSBC. service. Dunkin’ Donuts. Some easy to spell names: Target. the clothing company FCUK (French Connection United Kingdom) comes to mind.com. A famous founder/CEO/spokesperson is extremely beneficial. The postal service is rather forgiving when delivering mail with a misspelling in the name. upper & lowercase or the addition of symbols can make a name difficult to spell. you must acquit. BlackBerry. if your customers don’t spell your name perfectly. Some great personalized brand names: Dell. Of course. neighbors. and. It acts as the primary handle for a brand: It’s a recall and recognition device. Some unspeakable brand names: Chipolte. And why funny capitalizations and punctuations do not make good brand names. Abercrombie & Fitch. Hoechst. through time and consistent use.not with their shapes. Using a combination of letters & numbers. Hyundai. When it comes to brands. or coworkers tell you about a new brand is much more powerful than any advertisement you might be exposed to. A name is often the first act of public branding and helps establish the tone for a product. A shocking name gets attention and is more memorable. But not always. Key #9: Personalized. If the glove don’t fit. The best brand names usually have an element of shock or surprise. Then you use PR to get the first mouth moving. And with a personalized brand name the PR links directly to the brand. or company. Grey Goose. (Loose lips sink ships. Virgin. Monster. Atkins. Which is why the sound of a brand name is much more important than how it looks. An easy-to-say name usually translates into an easy to spell name. Orville Redenbacher. Yahoo. Some difficult to spell names: Daewoo. it communicates desired attributes or specific benefits. A name that is difficult to pronunce is a recipe for disaster. they will be unable to reach your website. Key #7: Spellable. Starbucks. Craigslist. Some speakable brand names: Target. Some great shocking names: DieHard. But the internet is a different story. Bed. Remember it is PR that builds brands. Word of mouth is the most effective medium for building a brand. In this connection. Red Bull. Papa John’s Pizza. Since the mind works with the sound of words. Key #8: Shocking. And in the age of the internet. Disney. Newman’s Own. you have to be careful that your name doesn’t go overboard and is so shocking that it offends people. Volvo. Jelly Belly. Having friends. Hopefully a brand name that is easy to say and remember. Weight Watchers.

But naming can often be an afterthought. more arduous—and more expensive. and usually results in a mad scramble. and areas to avoid. tonality. Outline the critical steps and build your timing around these. And that’s after you’ve decided on a name. as well as how it can continue to meet business objectives in the future. you’ll find that the process forces you to answer very specific questions for your audience—the creatives who’ll use it. Your brand strategy will help you create a name that is relevant and that has stretch and flexibility as your business. Creative names are only the beginning of the journey. many organizations take a very haphazard approach to naming. even if after careful planning your timing is tight. and the market. or company to form emotional connections with customers. personality. constructs. however—whether an internal team or an external agency— it’s an invaluable tool. Treating naming as an afterthought Any serious brand manager approaches a product or company launch with a systematic and clearly defined path— from concept development through to implementation. Underestimating the importance of a good creative brief Even after clear strategic criteria have been established for a name. . Names can help do this. detailed creative brief. and it becomes the lens for assessing and choosing names that are on-brand and are a comfortable. a good naming brief gets specific. They will make sure you have a name you love and that you legally own. 1. Your brief will focus your creative. 3. natural fit for your organization. highlighting what elements of the strategy (or attributes) should be communicated in the name and setting clear parameters for the approach and construct.However. Take into account what the name needs to do today. with many legal and linguistic hurdles that follow—hurdles that often mean the name you thought was great is not available or even that it’s inappropriate. While legally cleared names can be used as early as a month into the trademark process. While a creative brief will contain much of the same information as the brand strategy.S. word types. the strongest brands are ones that transcend the physical attributes of a product. It crystallizes the white space in the competitive landscape. many companies underestimate the value of a focused. and you’ll find it also gives you clear criteria by which to measure and choose a name. we’ll explore some of the most common mistakes made when creating or choosing a name. 2. Set out clear strategic objectives. Start the naming process early in the development phase. Forgetting that naming is as strategic as it is creative Companies often don’t spend enough time defining—and agreeing on—the strategic role of a name. As you pull together a brief. However. For the creative team. Naming is a far more complex process than most people imagine. naming is as much an art as it is a science. Remember. evolves. But a great name is rarely that simply because it is different or creative. service. full trademarks can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months in the U. and some tips to avoid them. often omitting crucial steps that end up making the naming process longer. call in the professionals. Following. A great name is one that clearly communicates the positioning and personality of the brand. In today’s highly competitive environment.

This means that someone. Choosing names subjectively When choosing names. weave trademark prescreening throughout the creative process.5 million active trademarks in the U. We all carry with us personal associations around certain names. it’s important to define the role the name needs to play—whether it’s to describe a function. even when it’s local. because it’s impossible to count) only some 250. almost every word in every major language has been trademarked. the more likely to be understood—and so picked—by customers. We’ve all had experience naming someone. To effectively decide. Ignoring global implications Every company wants to avoid linguistic disasters. Spend time deciding on the best approach for you. 5. We’ve all heard the many stories (or myths) around names that fail the transition across borders—like the Chevy Nova in Latin America or Microsoft Vista in Latvia. a thorough global linguistic evaluation is a must. companies often fall back on descriptive terms. Prescreening avoids wasting valuable time and money evaluating (and falling in love with) names that are clearly unavailable for use. Strong brands and mindshare can be built on both. But descriptive names aren’t always the answer. And with greater influences from other cultures and the rich cultural diversity of people in most countries. alone. when a brand or product is only being considered for local launch or with limited expansion into other markets. based on the belief that they are easier to sell and require less marketing investment. All successful brands. more and more people can pick up on issues—and talk about them.S. usually . the decision can be very subjective. Neither approach is right or wrong. each with a different name approach. Overlooking complex trademark issues One of the most overlooked challenges in naming is the highly complex trademark process. Or they might choose them simply because these types of names feel safer. And we all have preferences. And then there’s over 108 million URLs registered globally. To overcome legal challenges. and don’t always settle for safe. 7. and over 13 million globally. Don’t leave legal to the end. And. Idioms. Think of names like The Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond versus names like Target or IKEA. early on in the process. so you don’t have to settle with just any name. this way. or to position something new and different.4. With greater access to information. particularly because they can be limiting as your brand promise evolves. It’s the difference between creating a name that is easy to remember versus a name that’s hard to forget. Check names with native. In today’s global economy. Yet it’s surprising how many global brands continue to launch names that are inappropriate in a culture—or even many—by ignoring the rigor of a linguistic disaster check. Then consider that there are (arguably. Confusing the need for information with the need for differentiation When choosing a name. make sure your name says only what you intend it to say. legally viable name. 6. slang and cultural associations vary from country to country. even if the same language is spoken. But consider that there are over 2. It identifies. somewhere. it’s global. This happens. Securing viable trademarks is becoming increasingly difficult—but definitely not impossible. They might think that the more overt the name.000 words in the English language—and not all of them are useable as a brand name. In fact. owns the name you want. particularly. in-country linguists. signal a departure from where you are today. or something. names to avoid so your creative team can keep searching for the right.

and flankers. the more we use a name. quantifiable tool. quickly and easily. Brands. Find the right locus for branding so your naming strategy always pushes equity to the brands that matter—and so your offerings always help your customers make the best decisions they can. While names are vital. not only with our customers at every touchpoint. and it should not be the only way by which to decide on a name. So it’s important. but also very importantly with our employees and partners. research can be a powerful. clearly defining the role of the name. changes in the market and in customer demand. Research can’t tell us everything. or how we use the power of words and sounds in our brand expression every day. there are more and more opportunities for the launch of new products and services—and the need to name them. ideas. or it doesn’t have customer permission for a new definition. We’ve covered many of the ways to do this early on in the process—a strong brand strategy. they are onl y one part of your brand’s identity. avoid abrupt changes that may alienate any core audience invested in the name. But it does help guide your decision and build consensus among your key stakeholders. evolve based on new and updated offerings. the more it becomes the right name—one that we are comfortable with. one that we associate with and understand. Not everything needs a name. innovations. And make sure that any equity that does exist transfers to your new brand name. Keeping names that are no longer relevant As it often happens. This is where brand and naming architecture is vital. 9. Plan your re-naming and migration strategy carefully to smooth the transition from old to new. to choose based on clear criteria for success. 10. It’s in these cases where it’s important to ask whether a new brand or product truly needs a name. So it’s important to test names for fit and stretch. line extensions. existing names may not be able to stretch with the offering or may not have the right fit and relevance to meet longer-term business objectives. Then choose naming approaches. and acquisitions: As organizations expand and grow. Too many names and brands in a portfolio often add to customer confusion—as opposed to signaling expansion or innovation—and can work to dilute your main brand. and identifying the key attributes it should communicate. technologies. And yet language—and how we empower each of our . particularly its verbal identity. Create an organizing principle based on your brand strategy to guide decisions around naming so you can determine the ideal relationship between your main brand and any new sub-brands. In some of these cases. And keep your brand names relevant to truly position your company well. Nor should it limit you from taking (calculated) risks. when choosing a name. By carefully testing names with the people who will ultimately determine the success of your brand—your target audience—you can determine appeal and weed out any unanticipated negative reactions.based on other successful brands in the market or brands we personally like or respect. once you arrive at a final shortlist of name candidates. from there. But many companies mistake this for the real equity in a brand name: the ability to drive consideration and choice. and innovation. But. for each. Thinking everything needs a name New products. by nature. If you find the name no longer works. or even one that comes with an acquired brand. 8. we know that a brand is so much more than just its name. Ending the verbal identity process at a name Given all that we’ve covered on the importance of naming. Language is one of the most powerful tools we have to connect. valuable assets.

only Chevrolet has a nickname." This is a valuable aspect of the Chevrolet brand. If at all possible. The one-day flap over the "Chevy" name should never have happened. Hopefully positive from Chevrolet's point of view. and packaging as much as digital—and everything in between." After a friendship or working relationship is formed. The language of your brand starts at the strategy: your brand story. but it could also be negative. General Motors made a mistake by telling its employees to never use the "Chevy" name again and to refer to the brand only as "Chevrolet. it's common in France to use "vous. Nicknames serve a communication function. and key stakeholders. That would destroy some of the connections industry people feel toward the publication. Paola is passionate about language and believes it is a powerful tool that can impact behavior and help brands create an emotional connection with customers." When someone uses "Ad Age" instead of "Advertising Age." A nickname is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. and brand personality. Formal names and nicknames are somewhat like "vous" and "tu" in the French language. They indicate an emotional connection with the brand. Two names are better than one." you know that person is in the ad business or is familiar with it. As a matter of fact. People who use a brand's nickname feel closer to the product than those who don't. The Chevrolet owner who calls his or her car a "Chevy" is communicating some emotional connection with the brand. The original title of a book Laura and I wrote was "The 23 Immutable Laws of Branding. . employees. the lack of one. Or in the case of a formal name. When meeting someone for the first time. nicknames are one of the most under-utilized aspects of marketing. how we look—and even how we behave." But we dropped the 23rd law because everybody knows that nicknames are a valuable aspect of a brand. it would be common for one party to suggest using "tu. and make sure you train all your brand’s authors to use it.brand’s authors to use it—often lacks codification and activation. • • • • • Toyota — Toy? Ford — F? Honda — Hon? Nissan — Nis? Dodge — D? Nothing works except "Chevy. every company and every brand should have a formal name as well as a nickname. Of the six leading automobile brands. brand idea." The 23rd law was "the law of nicknames. Ad Age versus Advertising Age? Should Advertising Age change its name to Ad Age just because everybody in the industry uses the nickname? I think not. Head of Verbal Identity for Interbrand. Create a distinct language for your brand by focusing on voice and messaging. Chevrolet is fortunate it has two names. It impacts advertising campaigns as much as job postings. Carefully chosen words set the inspiration and tone for your brand and impact how and what we communicate. Most automobile brands have only one. how we speak. and leads the practice of naming and verbal identity. Try to figure out a nickname for the other five. Paola Norambuena is Senior Director.

.) Why? In a word. for example.500 people who die every day. In two cases. But hey. the taller candidate (Gore) won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college. (Nixon in 1972. a brand should have 1) a relatively short nickname. American Association of Retired Persons is now AARP. you have hit the marketing trifecta. In one election. the winners of the popular vote lost in the electoral college. The taller. the visual became more important than the verbal. In only two elections did the shorter candidate win the popular vote. the taller candidate was more than four times as likely to win the popular vote than the shorter one. In addition to its formal name." according to The New York Times. The organization wants to be known by one and all as the "Y. the candidate with more letters in his last name won the popular vote 20 times. "Y" is a gym. In one case. Almost everybody knows what NPR stands for. No wonder Coca-Cola is the world's most-valuable brand.Apparently not. 1) Coke. "sent a note to all its staff members asking everyone to refer to it as NPR. 2) a word it owns in the mind and 3) a powerful visual. it makes no difference whether National Public Radio uses its formal name. One important visual aspect is a candidate's height. The nickname killers.) In other words. But the long term is different. As these infants grow up. These are just some of the formal name changes. There are many other examples of informal name changes. Take Coca-Cola. In one election.000 people born every day in America. In the 13 presidential elections between 1960 and 2008. "W" is a hotel.) In the short term." The YMCA is doing something similar. There are some 12. Federal Express is now FedEx. "National Public Radio. "O" is a magazine. When given a choice. 3) The contour bottle. Carter in 1976. for example." (Companies that want to follow the ultimate downsizing trend had better hurry. "G" is a sports drink. 2) The real thing. That leaves only 21 letters of the alphabet up for grabs. the two candidates (Clinton and Bush) were equal in height. both candidates had the same number of letters in their names. If you can accomplish all three. how are they going to find out what those strange "NPR" initials stand for? And there are some 6. • • • • • Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC. Taft had only a one-letter handicap. TV. most people believe a longer name is more impressive than a shorter one. Computer Associates is now CA. The situation changed starting in 1964 when Johnson (7 letters) beat Goldwater (9 letters. In the 22 presidential elections between 1876 and 1960. of course. Many companies and many brands are hell-bent on killing their nicknames by substituting them for their formal names. taking their knowledge of the NPR brand with them. Longer names seem more important. In the 1960s. British Petroleum is now BP. the taller candidate won the popular vote nine times. The problems of a shorter name. The only time the longer-named candidate lost was in 1908 when Taft beat Bryan. "I" is on the verge of being taken by Apple. the better.

Furthermore. Radio Shack needs a new name. Names become obsolete." But you can't force consumers to use a nickname. a chain that has been having problems. What made Charles Shaw wine such a big success? Its nickname: Two-buck Chuck. An ideal combination. a company or brand should probably use its formal name in the headline and the signature and its nickname in the body copy. signing many of its ads "Chevy" instead of "Chevrolet. That's what makes marketing so difficult. what's the Gap's nickname? "G" is pretty much taken by Gatorade. Saks Fifth Avenue has a long. Let's go to Mickey D's. Yet one name is not better than two names. Charles Shaw became one of the largest-selling wine brands in America even though it was sold initially in only one state by only one chain. One strategy is better than two strategies. How about a Jack & Coke? Hop on my Harley and we'll go for a spin. Take the Gap. .It's hard to make a short name seem important." Here is a typical ad that uses "Chevy" in the headline and nothing in the signature except its "bow tie" trademark. Then there's "Saks Fifth Avenue" often known by its nickname "Saks. Let's take the Vette instead. Brands with nicknames have an advantage over the competition. You can understand why Radio Shack is trying to do this. formal name that sounds important and a short nickname that's easy to say and easy to spell. Marketing often defies common sense. Trader Joe's. The ideal strategy for every brand is to have a formal name and a more casual nickname. Now what do you suppose the marketing gurus behind the rash of recent name changes would have suggested for Charles Shaw wine? Change the label to "Two-buck Chuck?" And would they have suggested that "Macintosh" be changed to "Mac?" And Jaguar to "Jag?" And "MercedesBenz" to "Mercedes?" Or to "Merc?" None of these name changes make sense. Chevrolet has often violated this rule." Should the company call its stores "Saks"? That doesn't sound important. When was the last time you bought a radio? Or a part for a radio? Or an accessory for a radio? Radio Shack doesn't need a nick name. Radio Shack is trying to use the same strategy with an advertising campaign focused on "The Shack. Rules of thumb. You can show your friends you are cool if you use a brand's nickname instead of its formal name. Nicknames allow consumers to feel closer to the brand. Competitors like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters have names that make them seem more important and authentic. Two-buck Chuck and other examples. When should a company or brand use its formal name and when should it use its nickname? In print advertising.

Freestanding names like Shell. the nickname might be appropriate. When a company or brand has a well-known nickname. 2010) Michigan and Ohio suggest that shoppers go 'Krogering." (Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in "The Toast Derivation. can communicate overtly (e. Chevrolet has been running this same ad with the "Chevy" in the headline replaced with "Chevrolet.' It is a powerful source of identity and helps to project the intended image of the product against the competition and in the process of positioning a brand in the minds of the target audience (Ries and Trout 1980)." In the next mention. scheduled to begin this week. I'm surprised. It would seem to be an ideal complement to its verbal slogan "I'm lovin' it. "The Verb Treatment for an Investment House.' But what will investors make of a campaign that proposes they start 'Vanguarding'? "The campaign. i. Rentokil) or subconsciously. Visa and Comfort do.g. reject or recommend brands. however. companies sought to inspire consumer confidence with names borrowed from their . In between. that McDonald's in its TV advertising seldom uses its "Mickey D's" nickname." (Micael Dahlén.Recently." (Stuart Elliott. Fredrik Lange. 2010) Brand naming has existed for centuries. it shouldn't hesitate to use the nickname in the proper settings. hot tub is the generic term. the better to help potential customers remember the company’s mutual funds and other investment products. Wiley." You really have to love the place to call it "Mickey D's. Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach." So perhaps there was a good reason for the nickname memo. turns the Vanguard brand name into a verb. all Jacuzzis are hot tubs. In overcrowded markets with narrower segments. p. During the industrial revolution. 34) of Interbrand suggests that the key attributes of a brand name are:    allows brands to become part of everyday life by enabling consumers to specify.e. and Terry Smith. 2011) me is often revealing of the brand's intentions. A good rule of thumb which publications almost always use is to use the full name in the first mention and then the nickname in the next mentions. the reporter might say "The Journal. in the long run the publication would lose a lot of its identity. a reporter might refer to a newspaper as "The Wall Street Journal." Should The Wall Street Journal change its name to The Journal? No. March 14. a company or brand should probably use its formal name in the first mention and in the closing signature. whereas associative names like Pampers. but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzis. In an article.. for example. In TV advertising." Jacuzzi is a commercial brand. Susannah Hart (1998." The Big Bang Theory. A name itself need not necessarily convey objectives or associations. for example.." The New York Times. Kodak and Sony don't actually suggest any attribute or benefit. and can become a valuable asset as it functions as a legal device. Chevrolet needed to spell out when to use which name. brand names play a crucial role. Italians made watermarks on paper in the twelve-hundreds.

by T. first among them. Jason McNicol. you are competing with everyone who shares your name. according to Eric Yorkston. and Lance Eliot Brouthers. you are not only competing with others in your industry." (John Colapinto. Greenwood. Hoover vacuums--all names that are still in use. Clear your company name across all the social networks . So just what helps to get true recognition amongst the Googles. Windex. and quickly shot to number one for their name. Thomas. Fuller brushes. a marketing professor at Texas Christian University. Remember. graphic health warnings. J. 2007) 5 SEO Strategies When Naming and Branding Your Company Lots of factors go into a great company brand. "What Is in a Name? Transferring Brands to China. Wilkinson and A. 2011) tobacco companies say will increase the black market trade. The brand name will appear in a small font." The Irish Times. will mean cigarette packets will all be the same colour and carry large. 3. in the nineteen-twenties. when the explosion of similar products from competing companies made imaginative naming an increasing necessity. The font style and size and the position of the brand will be uniform. it should enter the evoked set with top of the mind recall. Oct. 2. Google your name choices to see how many results are returned. 2012. One. are language based.” or “advanced. . the best and most immediate way to be found on the search engines is to rank high (hopefully first) for your own company name. .owners’ families: Singer sewing machines.R. Second.. there was a wave of abstract names ending in 'o' (like Brillo and Brasso). Third. . modern brand naming--with its sophisticated focus groups and its linguistic and psychological analysis--began in the years after the Second World War. which will be introduced from July 1st. " . "Famous Names. a successfully transferred brand name should be memorable. followed." (Padraig Collins. As a quick check.” in their name. Vol.” “premier. How many “ABC” companies are out there? Web design firm NIC Media rebranded as One Lily. 2010) language differences must be understood if a brand name is to be successfully transferred since key elements of the marketing communication mix used to sell products. the business name itself. If the results number in the tens of thousands.." The New Yorker. But. by one of 'ex' names: Pyrex. . Before the First World War. like brand names or advertising campaigns. 1." Marketing in the 21st Century: New World Marketing. Obvious as that may sound." (Julie Mo. three decision rules should be followed in order to successfully transfer a brand name to China: First. "Plain packaging. many companies go for superlatives such as “superior. ed. only to have to compete with thousands of others similarly named companies. Cutex. This especially holds true if you use an acronym in your name. Bings and Yahoos of the world when it comes to naming and branding a new business? Here are five key factors. March 24. [W]e propose that when entering the Chinese market. Reduce competition by choosing a unique company name Unless you can hire a major SEO firm. For many aspiring entrepreneurs and internet start ups. "Australia Will Be First Country to Ban Logos on Cigarette Packets. the prime consideration is search engine optimization. . the brand name should accurately reflect the 'unique selling proposition' or the 'basis of sustainable competitive advantage' of the product/brand. Launching a new company on a limited budget requires as much marketing help as humanly possible. think again. a successfully transferred brand name has a 'symbolic' as well as a literal meaning: one that induces positive associations between the transferred brand and the preferred cultural practices or personal goals.

More is more .immediate brand name recognition and potential keyword ranking. By developing a creative. compelling brand voice that intertwines your brand message with well-placed keywords. distribution and authority. keyword relevant blog post. build a company brand identity that leverages multiple online channels. Add follow and like buttons on your home page. traffic and inbound links.com depend on traditional advertising to supplement their natural type in traffic. Shoot for fifty well written articles over the next twelve months. Maintain an active company blog. For Tungsten we use “company branding” as our main anchor text.com and Cars. you can attract the attention of both shoppers and search engines. So smile and say hello to more viewers. Rather than place all your branding eggs in the keyword basket. Consulting company Claricent. After all.com and IdeaMarketers. A basic ten page company web site can blossom into a sixty page customer magnet. timely and current your company brand will appear to the search engines. compelling. As your article marketing. later. it’s downright brilliant. “Landscape Supply” then became the industry descriptor phrase under their name. surrounded with copy that highlights brilliant company naming strategies and illuminated branding. Keyword brand names are expensive. not just by search terms. blog writing. Only a fraction of companies utilize YouTube videos to generate more views.com to determine the social media availability of your company name now vs. 3. check sites such as namechk. consistent brand identity. So be sure to cross connect all your media channels. Once secured. 5.. this is when having a unique company name can make life easier. you want customers searching for you. Facebook and YouTube.. so create a brand that will have customers seeking you out by name. taking up more virtual real estate. Wholesale Landscape Supply rebranded as Big Earth and soon after gained first page ranking for their company name. insightful business intelligence solutions. and link a keyword phrase to your web site. Their message of clarity and vision combines easily with their expertise in information management. Before naming a company. on Twitter. you will be forever stuck in that category. so feed them daily. not your competitors. WordPress provides an easy. In addition to blogging. Hotels. . This integrated approach creates a powerful web presence for optimal search results. And a great video can take the place of a thousand words. be sure to contribute to article marketing sites such as EzineArticles.create a big digital footprint Search engines eat content for breakfast. relevant articles on a regular basis. intuitive platform that has built in SEO tools. 4. your brand name will also show up in multiple results. more clicks and more customers.com to establish further reach. you will sound generic. use them in your tag line and web copy instead.com blogs frequently about clear. the more “long tail” keywords they rank for. create little differentiation and still require money to promote. Add your company name in the author’s bio. Get connected and stay connected The more you reach out. and social media activity rise. If you use keywords in your company name. Tweet your helpful. and you may not rank for the term anyway. The more they write. with a once-a-week. Invite visitors to opt-in to your informative e-newsletter. Place easy-to-use social media icons on your blog posts for easy broadcasting. giving them the best of both worlds -.Netflix learned the hard way that social media is a game changer. creating more inbound link love. Use keywords in your company tag line. well-balanced SEO plan for your new company brand is not just smart. Write with a knowledgeable. so will your rankings and your direct traffic. lunch and dinner. Their recently announced Qwickster brand name sent thousands of followers to a Twitter page of a pot smoking Sesame Street character. the more relevant. In the end. creating a strategic. Video offers another powerful medium for extending your brand reach. Again. not your company name Rather than stuff your company name with generic industry terms.

boring and meaningless three-letter names. (Apparently one was an English professor). win! With this more evocative name. another marketing legend is born! For all you marketing communications executives working in a company with a three-letter acronym name that is not AT&T or IBM. The owners had a fascination with all things Moby Dick. Not a terrible name. Then there was the Pequod Coffee Company. the concern is less on structure and convention. coupled with a more aspirational positioning and promise. For many years. there was a small but growing athletic footwear company with a check-mark shwoosh logo called Blue Ribbon Sports. product or service.When you engage in a naming initiative from the right side of the grey matter. Nike took off to the heights of greatness only a few companies will ascend to. this might cause you to think more about a name that will provide your company with more powerful visual imagery that will separates you from the slush pile of all the other companies with dull. What useful and compelling mental images and associations does the name “Pequod” bring to your mind? Alas. In a cluttered brandscape. A great name is just too important a business asset to come just from one side of the brain. owning a name that sparks a clear mental image that communicates the promise you make to your customers can be the white hot center of your competitive advantage. the company changed its name to a word that came from a Greek Olympic chant meaning “win. The right brain approach is the one that connects verbal cues with clear mental pictures. let me share a couple of stories from marketing folklore. What mental images does your company name convey? Are these visual associations aligned with what makes your business matter to people? . This is very important because people think and remember in pictures! Before I go deeper. and more on creating a clear mental image that serves the desired positioning of your company. Wisely. a name under serious consideration from a start-up company from Seattle. From there. win. but not compelling enough to create a powerful mental image of winning foot races. why not use the name of the Pequod’s first mate. and you already have a mermaid as your symbol. someone said something to the effect “since you are so set on the Moby Dick theme. Starbuck? At least it easier to pronounce and it sounds better”.

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