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Naming Steve Rivkin

Brand Naming: Context Counts

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“Naming a company Google or Squidoo or Blueturnip in the dot-com world isn’t weird. It’s the equivalent of naming your kid Michael.” 

That funny (and perceptive) quote comes from Small Is the New Big, a (2006) book from author and entrepreneur Seth Godin. 

The larger issue here is: Context counts. 

  • For instance, in the “As Seen on TV” category of products, most of the names are descriptive and straightforward, and rightly so. Here is a neighborhood where the best names are quick into the mind, and easy to understand. Examples: Pasta Express, Swivel Sweeper, Stick-Up Bulb, Auto Cool, Just-a-Trim, LumaTweeze. In a twinkling, these names tell the consumer who you are, and what you do.
  • Is Celsia the correct name for a high-tech company that does cooling solutions? Absolutely, since the technologists making the purchase decisions know the name honors a Swedish astronomer named Anders Celsius, whose adopted name identifies the metric system used by most countries.
  • Is Zany Brainy the right name for an educational toy store in the mall? You betcha. Just ask the parents if they’d like their kids to have fun while they learn.
  • Is Premio (the Italian word for “prize” or “reward”) a good name for the Italian sausage with real Italian taste? Just ask any supermarket shopper who’s looking for the “real thing” – the most authentic Italian brand. Premio stands out amid a cluster of general-purpose, heartland American brand names for sausage, like "Johnsonville" or "Jimmy Dean.".

When it comes to coining a new name, context matters.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop  

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1 Comment

Dennis Van Staalduinen on December 23rd, 2009 said

Nicely played. The problem of course is when a “Swivel Sweeper” gets a name like Seth’s own “Squidoo” (which actually isn’t a great name in a realm dominated by names like “Facebook” “Digg” and Twitter – which have much more descriptive and / or metaphorical substance – sorry Seth).

I recently blogged about the prevalence of “as-seen-on-TV” brand conventions in the medical device industry, which strikes a discordant note in that environment.

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