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4 Do’s And 1 Don’t For Smarter Brand Naming


Brand Naming Brand Strategy Earthgrains

1. Do go for quantity. Nine of any ten names generated (by any method or means) fail to get through an availability screening. And this is not a new problem. When the Coca-Cola Company introduced its first diet drink way back in 1963, an IBM Model 1401 computer was programmed to disgorge every four-letter combination containing a vowel. Out came 250,000 combinations. Then 600 names were examined as possibilities. But only 24, a mere four percent, had no conflict with existing trademarks. One of them, Tabb, was shortened to Tab.

2. Do look within. Sometimes good naming is more common sense than courage. Anheuser-Busch decided to spin off as an independent company the large commercial baking company (Campbell Taggart Inc.) it had acquired. Seeking a more expressive name, management selected one of their regional bread brands, redesigned it, and elevated it to the corporate name: Earthgrains Company.

3. Do remember that less is usually more. Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda was a curious and cumbersome name. Seven-Up was better. Dr. Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia CureSalve was going nowhere until it became Vicks VapoRub.

4. Do embrace emotion. Reason alone does not a great name make. Sears could have named its car battery “Reliable.” (Practical, logical and very ho-hum). Now consider the actual choice, the evocative and emotionally-charged DieHard. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter acknowledged this right-brain aspect of brand naming when he wrote, “The protection of trademarks is the law’s recognition of the psychological function of symbols. If it is true that we live by symbols, it is no less true that we purchase goods by them.”

5. Don’t be overly obvious. Sterling is a lovely word, especially in the United Kingdom where it defines the basic British monetary unit and has come to mean “of the highest quality.” But it is so obvious a choice that more than 700 U.K. companies have the word “Sterling” in their name.

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