What’s in a brand name?

What’s in a brand name?

Yes, there’s more to your brand than its name. But don’t underestimate the power you gain by getting it right.

Let’s start with a controversial statement: nothing is more important than your brand name. Of course, there’s far more to a successful brand, but the name is the first contact point most consumers will have with your business. It’s also the primary handle by which the world will find you, understand you and discuss anything you ever do.

Maybe you’re dealing with an established brand and the naming decision was made long ago? In that case, this thinking applies to your sub-brands and product names. If you’re about to name a new brand or business, read on.

Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, said it best: “You don’t merely want to be seen as the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”

Welcome to the age of the keyword. Mobile searches are outnumbering laptop and desktop enquiries on all the major search engines. As a result, you need high relevance to the search engines, plus instant meaning and appeal to the person who is scanning the top results. Relevance will get your message ranked; meaning and appeal will get it clicked.

Consider the offline world, too. As populations urbanise, we are seeing the rise and rise of express mini-supermarkets. Compressed shops translate to less shelf space. Less shelf space means more focused selections and – as you’ve noticed – retailers increasingly stocking the leading brand names and their private-label price-fighter variant, offering a lower price to consumers while delivering a superior margin.

The bottom line is: if your brand isn’t the number one, most obvious choice in searches online or on the shelf, you’ll be in trouble.

Kettle Chips was a smart name for a brand introducing a new option in premium snacking, and it rapidly became the generic for high-quality, high-price, hand-cooked crisps. But we shouldn’t be too surprised by the lack of success of one brand launched to steal Kettle Chips’ share in the UK. Red Sky launched in 2009, but the name lacked category relevance or meaning for consumers. Despite superb distribution, this poorly named product missed the opportunity to become even number two. Consumers did not search for ‘Red Sky’, and it was delisted by most major retailers by 2013.

Often, entrepreneurs and brand owners are too close to the detail and too far from the consumer mindset. The question that must be asked is: ‘What would potential new testers of your brand search for when they need what you offer?’ Are you the number one for those search results? If you’re not in the top three, there can be few more important actions than getting to one of those positions. If the top spots are already owned, it’s time to ‘fight in’ or ‘niche out’. Either way, picking the right name for your brand or products will be at the heart of your success. Picking the wrong one could be the start of your struggles.

Name your business, brand, products and services to be the only choice. That’s obvious marketing.

Sam Waterfall Founder and Expert Consultant Obvious Marketing
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