There is power in a great brand name. More than merely identify the brand, a great name helps the brand captivate people. It intrigues the eye and ear with the beginnings of the brand story. It persuades us that the brand has relevance. And it is evocative of something deep within us. In short, a great brand name is a powerful tool for marketing any business.
To be a powerful tool, a name must not only be relevant and resonant, but also be registrable as a trademark.
The three conditions to naming success.
Relevance, resonance and registrability ensure a name is viable. In our practice of creating compelling brand names in diverse categories, we’ve certainly found that to be consistently true. Crafting a meaningful name is more than coming up with a bunch of words to choose from. The process starts with a solid brand strategy. Only by understanding the brand’s positioning, personality and the people it hopes to reach can we develop the right name.
One way a name has relevance is by describing an essential aspect of the brand. This could be a component of its strategy or a detail from its brand story. For our client who provides bridging capital for mid-sized companies, we chose a name that serves as a metaphor for what they do. Fulcrum, the point of support where a lever pivots, suggests the brand lifting companies to a higher level.
Now, some famous brands may come to mind with names that don’t seem to have any relevance. In a lot of those cases, they are mature brands which don’t need to explain what their names mean anymore. Apple is an example, with a name that seems unconnected to its strategy or products. But for Apple Computers, the original brand name, the apple signified knowledge. The very first logo was a drawing of Isaac Newton sitting underneath an apple tree. In those early days of personal computers, the Apple Macintosh was more about knowledge, and was integral to the brand story.
Another important condition for naming success is creating resonance with consumers and users. A name that resonates can conjure feelings or ideas that people are drawn to. When we named a new wine, Bodacious, we wanted to evoke a sense of fun, a zest for life and a boldness of character. We wanted to attract wine lovers who share a similar outlook, and would find that attitude alluring.
When a brand creates an emotional response, it connects with people more deeply. That connection changes the relationship beyond the transactional, and becomes a stronger basis for continuing the dialogue.
The final condition, and the trickiest one, is finding a name that can be trademarked. With the constant introductions of new brands, it’s often a challenge to come up with a name that doesn’t conflict with a competitor’s. We advise our clients not to get too attached to any potential names until a detailed search for availability by an intellectual property attorney has been done. One way we’ve found success is with names inspired by foreign languages. For a new line of Filipino cooking sauces and marinades, we chose Pulo as the brand name. The word means “island” in Filipino and represents the 7000-plus islands that make up the nation.
The benefits of a well-chosen name
When all three conditions are met–relevance, resonance, registrability–the brand name becomes a powerful tool for communicating with consumers. It helps expand the conversation beyond features and benefits. We’ve seen how creating an engaging name helps a brand relate its story and add to its differentiation. In tandem with an effective design, the name delivers the emotional message that makes a brand both memorable and compelling.