So, What’s in a Brand Name?

HomeCanadian Marketing + AdvertisingSo, What’s in a Brand Name?

Starting a new business venture or need a new brand? Give it some deep thought because there is more at stake than you think. A brand is a collection of common impressions and beliefs about who you are and what you do.  It is a layer of meaning that radiates throughout your organization and defines it to both insiders and outsiders.

A brand is not just what your future customers or clients will see on your letterhead, in a TV commercial, or on your home page – it’s also what they will HEAR.  That’s right, you need to consider what consumers will think of when they hear your brand. How people hear your brand may help or hinder your brand awareness, brand association and brand recall.  So make it really easy for customers to remember you so they can find you in the future.

Let me explain.  Back in the eighties, the suffix “EX” was very prominent.  It was the new buzz in branding where many new brands considered including EX in their new name for their product or service.  Supposedly there were studies and extensive marketing research that showed consumers were subliminally more attracted to the “EX” sound and who recalled a brand easier if EX was in the brand.

Sure, we all get the subliminal connection with mankind’s favourite pastime, but I am not sure why I would choose one supplier over another simply because “EX” was in the brand name.  Would anyone rent a Roto-Tiller from Rentalex instead of Home Depot, or use FedEX over Purolator because of the appearance of EX?  Not sure.

Speaking of the Purolator brand – who were originally branded for an oil filtering service (Pur-O-Later) – didn’t know they would become a worldwide courier company, so we’ll give them a pass.  It’s a good story on business evolution for Purolator – but if you were going to brand an overnight courier company, would you use “later’ in the branding? I wouldn’t.  How could your image for an overnight courier company (fast, quick, reliable) build consumer confidence by using the word “later”.

Here are two poor examples of where a business kept their own personal name and it didn’t work positively. In fact, it opened the door to a horrible audio impression “Maze Financial Planning” or Basil Chyropochowski and Son Roofing. Do you get a sense that the financial planner is organized or are you left with an image of confusion?  The roofer is a tough to pronounce, let alone try to type in a website or simply recall the name.

Consumers, who hear of your brand, will unsuspectingly associate it with something and if it’s positive, they’ll store the association. Advertisers use anything and everything that gets a consumer to remember a product or service.  For radio and other audio mediums, they use a catchy jingle, humorous copy, or sound effects to get listeners to think about them, because they succeeded in getting them to place an image in their short-term memory bank.  Advertisers are getting better at this, using new tactics.

I recently experienced listening to a radio spot.  It’s a radio (and TV) commercial for a new product called “plastic in a can” where it seals holes and leaks – swiftly.  It looks like a great product.  The TV image is the screen door they put at the bottom of an aluminum boat and the sealant keeps the boat from leaking.  A great optic and impression to leave the viewers with.

The guy showing the product on TV (the same audio is used for the radio commercials) introduces himself as Phil Swift.  Really?  Is that spelled Fill Swift?  I had to laugh. His name works as a positive subliminal selling feature and image … Fills the hole, and Swiftly!

As a side note, this name recognition idea was spawned by radio DJs who dropped their personal name for a more easy-to-remember, cheerful on-air handle that resonates with listeners. Remember Wolfman Jack?  With radio ratings being very important for the station, making impressions with a new listener is key to keeping them tuning in.  Here are some interesting radio handles .. Frank Somers (summers); Brad Sommerhaise (Summer haze!); Hurricane Stevens, and Misty Breeze. Handles also remove the chance listeners could be turned off because of pronunciation or perceptions for religion, origin, language, ethnicity, etc.

So when thinking of a new brand, consider the fact the many potential customers may not initially see your brand before they “hear” your brand name. So when it comes time to choose your company name, think of all the potential benefits of picking a new name that will promote and market your new product or service at every opportunity.

The takeaway message is to be sure you consider a new multi-dimensional brand name that will work in all mediums and generate a positive impression + recall for potential buyers.

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Founder and CEO

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