Our instincts with branding are usually way off. For example, a couple of unorthodox rules I have found that hold true for branding are…
1. If you ask a few people on the street and they like it, its probably not a good brand name. If they hate it, its probably good.
2. Avoid using a name which describes the product or service precisely. A subtle link to the product or service in the name, or no link at all is better.
Both of these seem illogical and its why the vast majority pick bad brand names.
A Brand is Like a Person You Know Well…
Pick a random name of anyone you personally know out of a hat. You immediately have opinions, qualities, values etc. attached to that person.
That is the same for branding. And it is on an INDIVIDUAL level just like how you form associations and opinions about people, you do the same for a brand.
“Nobody would call their kid Happy Blondie”
Do we name our kids using words that describe them?
Of course not, nobody would call their kid ‘Happy Blondie’. It’s generic, it doesn’t stand out, and there are millions of people that could be given the same name. It also devalues them as a person – it makes them less ‘real’ like an inanimate object.
The same is the true for brand names and companies. For example, any Scuba company could call itself ‘Best Scuba‘, and it sounds like just another and signifies it is not different.
Names are there to express uniqueness, not similarities.
‘Neptune Diving’ would be much better, and even better than that ‘Deep Neptune’ which has an even more subtle connection to the service.
Just In: ‘Britney Spears’ & ‘Virgin’ used in same sentence TWICE…
When you hear a name like ‘Britney Spears’ your brain will make lots of immediate associations, just like you will make associations when you hear ‘Virgin Airways’.
Both Britney Spears and Virgin Airways have brand associations, and our brain did not need a descriptive name to remember the name, or the instinctive association with what that brand means.
In fact a descriptive brand name would have made memorizing and positive associations harder, and here’s why…
How We Think About Brands…
Our mind can work like a thesaurus and when you use descriptive names, your brain remembers the meaning, rather than the individual words. So you’ll probably think something like ‘Good Diving‘ when trying to remember the name of ‘Best Scuba‘.
If the words have less or a confused meaning, we are forced to remember the name, and then decide the meaning for ourselves.
This is perfect because we truly like to make our own conclusions about what we associate with a brand, not have it forced upon us. A descriptive brand name like ‘Best Scuba’ forces an association, and raises our resistance to believing it because its someone else’s opinion and not our own.
Whereas a non-descriptive name allows us to draw our own conclusions (even though such conclusions will likely have been prompted by how the brand presents itself).
Brands & Brains…
A brand to a person is simply a collection information that leads us to a conclusion about what that brand is about, and this happens whether it was intended or not. The words of the brand name, the actions of the brand, the colors, the type of products and services, and how the brand presents itself all play a part in how we make and recall these associations in our head.
When we see a brand, subconsciously or consciously, these associations effect our decisions and thoughts towards that brand.
The Meaning of Words in a Brand Name…
In fact, the choice of words is important, as words themselves have associations in our mind, by the way they sound, and what they may represent.
For example, an Apple represents fruitfulness, freshness, good health and sweetness. While not all apply to computers, the positive associations like good health and freshness, along with the help of great products and a solid marketing campaign, pave the way for people to see Apple Computers as a fresh computer brand that delivers a healthy operating environment.
Yet instinctively we want to use directly descriptive names when choosing brand names, and the man on the street will tell you that your subtle non-descriptive brand name makes no sense.
A few decades ago the man on the street will huff ‘What’s an Apple got to do with a computer?’, and ‘Microsoft sounds like a penis dehancer’
If we were selling to robots, the man on the street would be right, but we’re selling the brand name to humans, and they think a little differently.
This applies just as much to small companies as it does Fortune 500 companies. If you have customers or an audience, then that audience is making associations with your brand name, and it effects how your company and products are perceived and if they will keep coming back to you.
Read the powerpoint summary of this great branding book below for more branding tips…
What do you think? Did you choose the right brand name for your business?