Why The Best Brands Eventually Leave Their Names Behind. Part 1

By Joe Duffy Jan 3, 2012

In our business, we often have the opportunity to bring a new brand to life. With that comes a question we often hear from clients: “Do you do naming?” And then, “What’s your process?”

It’s a regular part of our process to struggle with naming a new company, product, merger, or acquisition. You might be asking yourself, Did he mean to write "struggle"? Yes, I did. And it’s a bigger struggle today than it was before the onset of the World Wide Web and the ensuing global market that everyone now plays in. Perhaps the biggest aggravation is the difficulty in securing a simple and meaningful URL and trademark/copyright. It’s become a bit of a gamers’ business to buy and hold names today, and so many meaningful options have been taken.

In part, that is why our approach to naming is different than many firms that specialize in naming. Because when you stop and really think about it, how important is it that a name actually explains your product’s unique selling proposition, defines your company, or pegs you into a specific category? And even if any or all of those factors are driving forces behind your naming objective, do you have the luxury of choosing a name that will have only one linguistic meaning? The truth is that naming is about much more than words; it goes beyond linguistics and phonetics. 

Think for a moment about some of today’s most famous brands. Consider these names--alone. Apple. Amazon. Target. What do any of these words say about the products they sell? The services offered? The groups that started them, or more important, the companies that they have become?

Not much.

Then stop for a moment and think about the way the world communicates today. Paraphrasing. Colloquialisms. Jargon. Even when you have a brand name that defines your raison d'être, it often gets abbreviated. That’s what happened to Federal Express and Aol. 

And then…they embraced it.

These are but a few examples of truly relevant brands. Their true meaning comes from getting to know them, watching them evolve, seeing them for more than the letters that make up the words in their names. So while I won’t say that the name itself is unimportant, I firmly believe that it is so much more than the name alone.  Continue reading…

 

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