How To Pick A Brand Name

Many of us have a difficult time remembering people’s names. Why is this? One study done on the subject reported that people who had to study biographies remembered the subject’s job first (69%), followed by their hobbies (68%), their home towns (62%) and then, finally, their first name (31%) and their last name (30%).

The reason names came in last is because they are mostly arbitrary. There is no common trait for people named Pat or guys named Dave. And because of this their name falls away forgotten while other more unique information, such as a particular hobby or an interesting job, remains in our mind.

This is a parallel for company naming as well. Take pizza restaurants. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing “so and so’s famous pizza” that we often forget the entire name. “Pizza” becomes the equivalent to “Dave” and whatever’s next to it is the equivalent of the last name. The whole thing, just like a person’s name, becomes difficult to remember. The solution is that recall is helped along from being bold and unique.

Before it was called the memorable ‘Pentium’ many at Intel wanted to name the product the ‘ProChip’. Blackberry was nearly called ‘EasyMail’ and P&G’s Swiffer was almost the ‘EZMop’.

Last year, Drake Cooper provided our fair share of naming services as we went about Campaign Planning. When we begin the process of name development we consider five possible naming categories…

 1. Regular Names

2. Associative Names

3. Proper Names

4. Invented Names

5. Acronyms

It’s helpful, and interesting, to group naming options into such categories. Once that’s complete, as Al Ries is quick to point out, brands should then ideally try to have two properties:

 In addition to its formal name, a brand should have (1) a relatively short nickname, (2) a word it owns in the mind and (3) a powerful visual. If you can accomplish all three, you have hit the Marketing Trifecta.

Take Coca-Cola, for example. (1) Coke. (2) The real thing (or ‘happiness’ these days). (3) The contour bottle. No wonder, Coca-Cola is the world’s most valuable brand.

If Chris Riley is correct that 2013 could largely be about the Maker Market then the year should see its fair share of naming opportunities. Perhaps the above groupings can be helpful in creating options that are bold and unique.

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John Drake
John Drake
January 28, 20132 min read