The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Naming and verbal identity is such an essential foundation of successful strategic brand development. What about changing the name of an established brand? The decision to change a well-known brand name should never be entered into lightly.
There are many reasons established brands may consider changing their name. Changing a strategic business focus in new and different directions from legacy markets can be a good reason to change a brand name. That is, of course, if the naming change will serve greater meaning, resonance and value for consumers and customers.
Regardless of the strategic business issue driving a name change, established brands will always risk losing the brand equity associated with the original brand name. And in crowded me-too categories that is difficult and expensive to earn back.
Risking brand equity and a loss of meaning is something a startup brand doesn’t have to worry about simply because there are no associations or equities in the minds of customers. Startup brands are free to innovate their brand name across the entire naming spectrum, (description, evocation, real word, coined word etc.) Not so for an established brand considering a name change. Changing an established brand name has profound implications.
A case in point is the recent name change of Yousendit to “Hightail”.
Yousendit is a highly successful company with the benefit of a strong and descriptive brand name accompanied by a recognizable visual symbol that creates instant communication about the brand’s value proposition to users– sending large files quickly and easily over the web.Read More
You can change a corporation name gradually – by phasing in new materials over a period of time. Or you can do it radically: Everything new and in place on one changeover date. Either way, you’ve got a lengthy list of materials to consider.
Here’s a checklist that can help as you pore over business records and gather samples.
Calling cards, Domain name, Email address, Email settings, Envelopes, Fax answerback, Letterhead, Mailing labels, Memo pads, News release form, Postal meter, Press kits
LISTINGS & CERTIFICATES
Business directories, Certificates of incorporation, Credit certificates, Directory listings, Licenses, Permits, Stock certificates, Ticker symbols
Corporate checks, Invoices, Payroll checks, Purchase orders, StatementsRead More
Names just don’t sit there. Names “do.” Names have action and energy. Sure, names identify a business or brand. But names also suggest certain types of action:
- To Ban that offensive odor.
- To get those mosquitoes Off!
- To pack up the kids and Caravan down the road.
For more context, we call on John R. Searle, a reigning authority on the functions of speech, and the author of Expression and Meaning. Professor Searle has identified five basic types of “speech acts.” Here are four of these speech acts as they perform bits of business in brand names.
Representatives commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition: They swear, report, assert or conclude. Toys ‘R’ Us. A pet day care and boarding establishment called Pets Preferred. The name of the action is built into two Canadian discount airline brands, Canjet and Jetsgo.
Directives attempt to get the consumer to do something: They command, exhort, urge. Guess jeans. A dance studio called Jump to It; a chain of paint shops, Color Your World. The insect repellant Off! A Microsoft imaging software product called Picture It!
Commissives commit to some future course of action: They promise, threaten, offer, vow. A deodorant will Ban. A shampoo will Amplify. Software promises to Excite. Or one undertakes to Hide-A-Bed.
Expressives express a psychological state: They think, apologize, welcome, congratulate. Glad trash bags. Perfume that is Glorious. Chocolate that is Bliss.
In strictly literal terms, a brand name wants the customer to buy a product or service. But in terms of speech acts, a lot more is going on.
Sponsored by: The Brand Positioning WorkshopRead More
So you want to register a domain name – let’s call it “www.smith.com” – but that URL is already taken.
No surprise. More than 225 million domain names are registered worldwide, according to Verisign. (That’s something in the range of 30 times the number of existing trademarks.)
So, what should a marketer do? Let’s work from three assumptions: First, you want the status of a dot-com and won’t be happy with a lesser billing. Second, you’re unable (or unwilling) to change the “Smith.” Three, you’ve explored the purchase of the existing domain, but it’s either too expensive or too time-consuming a process.
- Expand the company name. Consider SmithCorp.com or SmithLLC.com. Or consider telling more: SmithTechnologies.com or SmithVentures.com.
- Expand the product or brand name by adding the specific: SmithCoffee.com or SmithOptics.com. (This should also boost your search optimization.)
- Wave the flag. You should be proud to be identified as SmithAmerica.com or SmithUSA.com.
- Go bigger. Consider SmithInternational.com or (using the common abbreviation) SmithIntl.com. Bigger yet: SmithUniversal.com.
- Urge action. Following the lead of the direct-response crowd, consider GoSmith.com or TrySmith.com.
- Underscore immediacy. SmithToday.com might work.
- Be irreverent. With a nod to college rah-rah: WeAreSmith.com.
Join us at The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley May 16-17, 2013 in San Diego, California
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 100 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
Big Ass Fans is a new national advertiser. They sell the world’s most efficient ceiling fans, in diameters from 5 to 24 feet. The company started life as the High Volume Low Speed Fan Company, before adopting an irreverent new moniker. (The company claims it changed names after repeatedly hearing customers say, “Man, that’s a big-ass fan.”)
Christian Dior went against the grain of romantic, flowery perfume names with its Poison brand.
A Louisiana pharmacist concocted a soothing diaper rash balm that worked so well, local athletes started using it. He called it Butt Paste. Now you can buy it at Wal-Mart.
Redneck Bank, based in Mustang, Oklahoma, is the online banking division of Bank of the Wichitas. (As the first line of their website says, “Yep, we’re a real bank.”)
When you pick an irreverent, outlandish name for your brand, is it a desperate way to call attention to yourself? A clever way to differentiate yourself? A tactic only for a fringe brand?
Or something else?
We went to our panel of experts for their points of view, and they cautioned that this approach is by no means for everyone.
JACK TROUT, renowned marketing strategist, best-selling author and founder of a consulting firm with partner offices in 25 countries:
“We are indeed in an era of crazy names that people are using as a way to attract attention. The reason is that in category after category, more and more names are born as categories divide. (It’s the Immutable Law of Division.) Successful brands such as Google, Smucker’s and Roach Motel have encouraged others to get a little crazy as a way to be more memorable. But beware, your product has to have a good story behind it, not just an attention-getting name. (With Roach Motel, the roaches check in but they don’t check out.)”