The art of giving a name2 August 2023
The first impression is what counts, and not only when it comes to meetings between people. Think about it; the name is the first element through which a brand, a product, or a service communicate who they are. It is the I.D. by which they present themselves to consumers, and that’s why the more that ‘document’ is consistent, clear, and recognizable, the greater the ability of the brand, product, or service to establish itself effectively and be remembered. It is from the name that a company starts the journey to successfully establish itself or its products/services in the market.
According to a Nielsen study, over two-thirds of new product launches fail. Most of these products struggle to achieve their predetermined business goals and are withdrawn from the market within a year of their launch. One way to tilt the balance in your favor is to carefully work on ‘Naming’. This is a term that in the marketing context precisely defines the process through which a name is chosen for a company, a product, or a service.
Techniques And Strategies of Naming
The Naming process is something complex that involves various disciplines and fields, creatively blending them to distill the name. Psychology, linguistics, pop culture, TV, movies, and more: everything can contribute to the creation of a name.
The first fundamental phase of the process is always the analysis of the brand identity: the values, vision, and mission of the brand; the user personas identifying the audience and potential consumers of the product; and the positioning that the brand or product wants to adopt.
The next phase involves brainstorming, where a study of the market and existing competitors is conducted, along with their positioning and the evocative values they want to express in order to carve out a space that is still open in terms of novelty and originality. The web becomes a fundamental support in this phase. For example, to discover the names circulating online, as well as the trends and demands associated with the concept we want to convey, and how a certain name can be valuable and assessable in terms of SEO and content marketing strategies.
The brainstorming results in a list of names, from which the third phase of the process begins, which is more creative in nature. During this phase, those names are manipulated, refined, compared, tested (e.g., through surveys), and gradually discarded, reducing the pool of possibilities. It is important to note that there are many types of names:
- descriptive: they describe the product/brand or one of its features in a straightforward and immediate manner and their strength lies in clarity (e.g., Booking.com);
- invented: fantasy names that did not exist before (e.g., Nutella);
- evocative: they are designed to stimulate the consumer’s imagination without directly describing the commercial proposal, but through thought associations (e.g., Starbucks, the coffee shop chain, whose name comes from a character in the novel ‘Moby Dick’);
- patronyms: they coincide with the founder’s last name (or first and last name). They were used frequently in the past (e.g., Louis Vuitton or Barilla);
- acronyms: they use the initials of other words or of the full commercial name (e.g., FIAT, IKEA, NASA).
Whether they are of one type or another, ideal names should have characteristics such as:
- originality to stand out from competitors;
- consistency with the brand identity;
- brevity, as the length of a name is directly proportional to the difficulty of memorizing it;
- the ability to convey emotions;
- ease of being remembered;
ease of pronunciation and also translation into other languages. This is an aspect that should not be underestimated if you want to give your brand or product an international dimension without encountering communication ‘missteps.’ For example, who can forget Volkswagen’s Jetta, a car with an unfortunate name for Italians due to its similarity to the word ‘getta,’ (throw it) or IKEA’s transformer ‘Slut,’ a word that in English is a vulgar term to address a woman?
Once we have a list of names, the next step, especially if you are naming a brand, is to check the availability of the domain and the registrability of the trademark. It could happen that the online domain corresponding to your chosen name is not available, in which case the choice will need to be reconsidered. Once an available domain is found, it is also a good practice to create social media accounts using this domain.
Furthermore, the decision to register the name and turn it into a trademark is necessary if you intend to establish an entrepreneurial activity around that name. At that point, the name also takes on the characteristic of a budget asset with an economic value. It is important to protect the name legally, both to safeguard it and to ensure that you have all the necessary legal requirements in place to operate confidently both online and offline.
Oscar Giacomin / General Manager, Facto Edizioni
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