As marketers, we’re often asked to devise new names for brands and campaigns. Sure, there are the issues of trademark, geographies, budget, IP and a load of other fiddly stuff, but as a starter for ten, here’s our guide to six different buckets of brand names.
The what-it-says-on-the-tin names
Think Bank of America, General Motors or British Petroleum. Con: a little boring, not evoking real emotion. Pro: you know exactly what you’re getting.
The compound names
Very nearly saying what they do, these are quasi-words that give you a rough sense of the product or service you’re getting. Netflix: online film content. Facebook: index of people. Microsoft: something in the software digital world.
The geographical names
The likes of The New York Times, Kentucky Fried Chicken, British Airways (or again, Petroleum) give a sense of history and heritage. Lesser-known places can have value too, allowing the name to be more ownable, such as Evian (of the lakeside French town Évian-les-Bains) or our own client Drax from the Yorkshire village of the same name.
The acronymic names
BBC, IKEA, IBM, AOL. Obviously, everyone knows these but acronyms and initialisms can be risky for a new brand. An awkward string of consonants doesn’t evoke all that much unless you coin a new word that runs off the tongue, e.g. ASOS (“as seen on screen”), FIAT (“Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino”) and, it has to be said, ABBA (courtesy of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid).
The made-up names
Invented words like Spotify, Google and Xerox can give a sense that they’re innovators, the first of their kind – certainly the case with Google (though technically, a spelling of mathematical term googol). But go too abstract and people won’t have any idea what they’re meant to take away.
The evocative names
Simple, known words that evoke specific ideas. Jaguar: speed. Tinder: sparks. Amazon: vastness. Nike: victory. We’d put the recently-discarded Lilt in this category, evoking something pleasant and soothing.
Names can also slide out of favour – Opal Fruits, Marathon – often to the heartache of die-hard fans, because however much planning goes into a name, it always comes down to that gut emotional response.