Brand strategy: what’s in a name?

Together with packaging design, a brand’s name is perhaps the most important factor influencing brand personality and perception. But with only 26 letters to work with, chances to create a name that’s short, memorable, distinctive – and legally available – are low. No wonder then that finding nomenclature has become somewhat of a science.

There are typically 4 types of names: Descriptive, Suggestive, Arbitrary, and Fanciful.

Descriptive names

Descriptive names have the advantage of being just that – descriptive. Without much advertising, the consumer can make out the type of product or service it is just by looking at the name. Take Wall Street Journal – you know it is a newspaper. British Airways is an airline company and Head & Shoulders something for your head and shoulders.

The disadvantage of Descriptive names is their legal availability. Since they’re made up of generic or existing names, chances they are already registered are high.

Suggestive names tend to be emotional.

Suggestive names

Suggestive names come relatively close to Descriptive names. They’re made of existing names or combination of existing names. They’re a little bit easier to register but the real advantage is that they tend to be emotional. They convey a benefit, an experience, or even a particular imagery. Vogue is a magazine about fashion while EasyJet suggests easy traveling and Always is something that you can always trust.

The brand Apple has nothing to do with selling apples.

Arbitrary names

We then have Arbitrary names. They are words that have no relation whatsoever with the type of product or service. Sprite, for example, in English, describes a little elf or fairy. Nothing to do with lemon soda. And same with Apple, nothing to do with selling apples.

Founders’ names or acronyms – think IBM, BMW, Kellogg’s – also fall in this category. Here you will need a larger advertising budget to inform your target what the product is since no correlation can be made with the name itself. The plus side of Arbitrary names is that they are generally available in the appropriate trademark classes.

Fanciful names

And finally, Fanciful names. Those are completely made up names you will not find in a dictionary. Like Kodak, Oreo or Skype. While they require a big advertising budget, they have the best odds of being legally available.

Nomenclature is of utmost importance for positioning a product or service. Contact us today to find out more about our name development capabilities.

Text credits: ARD / agi

Images credits: Wallpaper Access / British Airways / Wikipedia / Elbakin

Nomenclature is of utmost importance for positioning a product or service.
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