Are you considering starting up a new business?
Well, first up, you need to BRAINSTORM, and this doesn’t mean sitting at the bar with a buddy trying to come up with a name. You begin by composing a large list of names from any research you’ve done, observations you’ve made and suggestions you’ve heard in relation to your competitors and potential customers. After creating this initial list, you divide the potential names into the four categories below, based on the different ways they can be perceived by your audience (some names, of course, will fit into more than one category).
Descriptive names either relate directly to or describe a business’s service, product, or approach, or consist of peoples’ names. Example : VHI Healthcare, Mini Cooper & Vodafone
PROS – Descriptive names tell the audience clearly who you are or what you do.
CONS – In any particular line of business, the number of relevant descriptive words is limited. Descriptive names can be easily repeated. Often resulting in a name that is barely distinguishable from those of your competitors. Names that describe what you do also can lack flexibility if they no longer apply, and can even cause confusion, if you start doing something else.
Invented names can include non-English derivatives (Greek or Latin roots are generally the most popular), or be created on the basis of their rhythm, sound and/or appearance in print. Example : Diageo, Accenture & Viagra
PROS – Invented names can be memorable and engaging, are generally easy to trademark and are usually free of negative connotations when first chosen. Viagra, for a different reason, is a good example of this.
CONS – Invented names can be image free and emotionally void or intrinsically meaningless and so, if ill-chosen, resistant to the attachment of your message. In such cases they may appear to have no connection to the company or product to which they are attached. Unless you implement an extensive marketing and advertising plan to give meaning to your invented name, it may be difficult to create a well recognised brand. They will also be more expensive to bring to the market place as they are an unknown entity. Consumers will always ask . . . “What does Accenture do?”
Experiential names offer a direct connection to the audience’s experience rather than to what the company/product does. Example : Landrover Discovery & Super Valu
PROS – This type of name generally makes sense to the consumer as applied to a product or company. Names like Landrover Discovery suggests an adventure every time you get into your SUV. Super Valu has groceries priced right that helps the consumer relate directly to the company or products it sells.
CONS – Differentiation can be a problem. Because these names can be so obvious, they can be overused. They may even be used across several industries. Namely, Landrover Discovery and Discovery Channel or a phrase along the lines of . . . ‘That meal was super value!’
Successful Evocative names encapsulate, without actually describing, the essence of a company or product . . . in other words, its positioning. These names are truly unique, and when they work, they can be very powerful indeed. Example : Apple & Google
PROS – This type of name is dissimilar to other names, making it a powerful differentiator. It can work on many different levels, engage your audience in many different ways, and it can be “bigger” than the goods and services for which it is initially coined. Because of its distinctiveness, trademarking can be easier than average. When an evocative name is in sync with your positioning, it is a branding force that can dominate an industry.
CONS If it doesn’t fit with your brand positioning, an evocative name can be a disaster. Even if it does fit, naysayers may find holes in it during the decision making process.
To summarise, we believe, the more Evocative and Experiential a name is in relationship to the positioning of the company or product it refers to, the more it will engage its audience. Descriptive and Inventive names can also be successful, as long as they connect to the customer in a relevant way; but as a name never exists in a vacuum devoid of supporting materials it does not have to describe your business or product. A name that is not descriptive is more adaptive to changing circumstances, and can, over time, become bigger than your current service or product.