True Love was the name of college friend Jim’s beloved Alfa Romeo. Why? Because, as he admitted repeatedly, “It never runs smooth.” Ah the power of naming something.
What will we dub this decade? What will you name your new effort? “I want to define myself before someone else does,” George W. Bush said as he took office. Similarly yet perhaps more successfully you want to make your brand name so memorable that other’s less flattering nicknames don’t become more popular.
If, for example, you want your product to seem swift and reliable then give it a name that has an “e”’ in it to evoke speed and a “b” for reliability. So suggest linguists. That’s why that vital gadget Obama won’t give up was not named Strawberry (“straw sounds slow”) but alliteratively dubbed the Blackberry. Avid users soon adopted the irreverent, stickier name - Crackberry. Yet many made-up names, especially hybrids of other names, sound bland and forgettable, especially those for scientific or medical companies and products.
And does Verizon make you think of “horizon,” as in forward-looking. Does it remind you of anything? Does it evoke a positive emotion – or any emotion at all?
Or does to Intel instantly cause the image of “intelligent” and “electronics” come to mind?
Does Cialis sound “sensual” or remind you of “relationships” as the company intends? Or, only slightly less euphemistically, “a couple’s desire to engage romantically?" Any doubt that a committee involving their pr and legal department concocted with that phrase? Like Viagra, when companies spend millions on advertising many of us finally got the point. Ahem.
Sometimes, but rarely, a company needs to hide behind its name.
While psycholinguists were involved in naming Prozac and Zoloft, neither relate to a real world image, are easy to remember, nor do they evoke an emotion – positive or negative.
Perhaps the big corporations are trying too hard – or are wary of taking on the risk for naming so they subcontract it out.
That doesn’t mean you have to.
As a usually upbeat person I’ll stop this rant now.
Memorable Labels Can Shift Perspectives, Then Opinions
Here’s a simple secret to creating names that stick in the minds of your kind of customer:
Evoke a familiar image that has an emotional, commonly-viewed trait that reflects and reinforces the Main Differentiating Benefit of your service, product or company.
As a Fallback Evoke the “Familiar Effect”
At least use the name of a familiar object upon which you can project your own emotional brand image – like Apple, reflecting the crisp, clean, simple and “tasty” design of Apple’s products. (What do you think if the rumored name of their new product?)
Or make up a name that easily and emotionally evokes the image that highlight the main benefit. Spicy Baconator sounds like a hearty serving of something with bacon in it. This name reinforces the mouthwatering intensity of the double cheeseburger photo that appears next to it.
Warning: Be sure to say the name out loud to avoid embarrassment. I’ll bet PETA has taken a lot of ribbing for its first blog title.
For more ideas on naming see the blogs Igor, Business Naming Basics, Strategic Name Development and The Kitchen Sink. Notice how much easier it is to remember the names of the first and last blogs I just listed?)
Also consider perusing these related posts: