Fresh Ideas /

Three tips for naming your brand (Four if you count “Do not panic”.)

#Audio, #Branding, #Strategy

Nothing in marketing can prepare you for the craft of naming a brand. Part art, part science, with a double-dollop of ‘counter-intuitive,’ naming can be scary. Frances Ranger explains why that can be a good thing.


FRANCES: Fifty-five years ago, Reuben Mattus looked upon the world’s confection firmament and declared-

VOICE: Let there be ice cream.

FRANCES: Fancier, pricier ice cream. Premium ice cream. And it was good. Seeing it was good, he then declared:

VOICE: “Let it be called… “Häagen-Dazs.”

FRANCES: -and it wasn’t just good… it was Danish. Complete with umlaut. And a map of Scandinavia on the package.

At least, it seemed Danish. Because “Häagen-Dazs” is a made-up name—a figment of Reuben Mattus’s imagination. For that matter, there is no umlaut in Danish writing.

All the same—Häagen-Dazs currently scoops more than $400 million a year for an 8.1 share of the U.S. ice cream market.

That buys a lot of umlauts.

Which brings us to another very cool place. Quarry—in St. Jacobs, Ontario, very near the intersection of art and science.

And that intersection is where most great names come from. As much as any other task in marketing, naming a product or company or brand needs to fire in both hemispheres of the brain.

Hundreds of considerations play into the right choice of name. But today let’s talk about three.

One: before you name a brand, you need to eliminate a popular word from your vocabulary.Roll it, Dan-

SCIENTIST: Eureka! I’ve done it! Eureka!

Okay… ‘Eureka’ moments rarely happen with great names. Like single malt whiskey, leather boots and the works of Vincent Van Gogh, great names aren’t often great right away. They must, over time, be filled with meaning and brand promise.

Is ‘The Beatles’ a dumb name for a band? Maybe, until you put this behind it:

CLIP: BEATLES’ “Please Please Me”

Second, make friends with fear. Choosing a brand name is all about fear. The good kind of fear. Is a name bold enough? Is it too bold? Will it sound stupid in 20 years?

Bad names are scary. But then, so are great ones. The very definition of ‘creativity’ is imagining what isn’t. And we’re wired to equate ‘unfamiliar’ with ‘bad.’

Yet often, beyond that discomfort are the treasures, which become less frightening with time. Consider ‘Apple’ and ‘Nike’ and ‘Yahoo.’

Third - check your baggage. Remember that naming a brand isn’t about you—and it isn’t always about what you like. If a name is good but reminds you of your lost love from high school, suck it up, buttercup.

Instead, think of a name as a branding opportunity - to serve and inspire customers. Even to surprise. It’s about the experience you want to create for your customers.

That can only happen if you get out of your own way, and free yourself of personal baggage.

And that can be hard.

At Quarry, I’m Frances Ranger for Fresh Ideas.