What’s in a name anyway?

by Tony Fannin, prresident, BE Branded

Some believe that there’s really little need to spend time and energy in developing a great name for a product or company. There are many examples that they point to such as Best Buy, Starbucks, and British Petroleum. These companies have created great brand awareness in spite of their name. What they don’t tell you is the second half of the brand equation. It also took many decades or even a century with millions of dollars in marketing and dominating a market like building a store on every other block in a 2 mile radius. With that kind of marketing support and presence, you too, can make your Widgets-to-go company well known.

Today, business is hyper-competitive with competitors that are around every corner and that come in many forms. Why handicap yourself on purpose? So, why spend the effort in creating a great brand name or product name?

First of all, you need every advantage you can get in a competitive environment. Most likely, there are already many companies and products that already exists and do what you do. They may not do it exactly as you, but they fall in the same category. Your competitors already have an advantage by the fact they have a head start on establishing their brand in the marketplace. They also are probably spending much more than you on marketing and advertising. Unless you plan on spending 2.5 times your competitors to launch a product or company, your name becomes your greatest weapon.

Second, if  your name is too generic or too close to names that already exist, you’ve already positioned yourself into the commodity bin. That means there is nothing special about you and now you’re competing for pennies based on price point. Names need to be unique and different to be memorable. By giving yourself this advantage early, you’ll have a better chance to separate your company or product from a competitor. Google, Swiffer, and Xerox have been able to do this. Some of the names have become so iconic that they have become verbs. I don’t know of any generic names or boring descriptive name that has been able to establish their brand into that elite echelon.

Finally, you name needs to match the vision. I see too many tech companies who say they are all about innovation, but come up with the most boring, expected names, how can I take their mission seriously? If you’re all about innovation, shouldn’t it begin with yourself? You can also get preachy and be too much about yourself. Many companies get too egotistical about themselves or their products. Your vision should be less about you and more about your customers. So should your name. What are the emotional benefits? What value do you bring to the world? Does the name really support your vision of what you are doing?

What’s in a name? To me it’s a vital key to success. Nike. Apple. McDonald’s. WalMart. These brands have emotional meaning just by mentioning them. That’s what’s in a name.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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