Brand names: how important is the name?

I recently read an online article that suggested the name of a brand is not really that important. The author, who worked for a global brand, had been asked to give his opinion on the new name for one of their company’s international business units. The concern was that the acronym of the new name could apparently lead to some mirth for English speakers.

The author of the article came to the conclusion that while that could happen, the name itself wasn’t that important. He said: “the reality is that few people care about the name itself; it’s the equity we build in that division for excellent customer service and outstanding financial performance that really counts.” He then went on to illustrate his point by highlighting some well-known brands whose name bears no relevance to the product they are selling.

Apple, for example, is a very strong brand with a clear identity but with no link to apples, or even fruit. Apparently, Steve Jobs came up with the name after spending time working on apple orchards and thought the simple name was “fun, spirited, and not intimidating”.

So, yes I would agree that a brand name does not have to be directly relevant to the product or service you are selling but I disagree that the name itself isn’t that important.

Potential customers will quickly form an impression of your company or product from the name.  It’s often the first part of your brand that they will come into contact with. It’s important to consider how your name is likely to appear to someone who’s coming to it fresh and your customers don’t want to have to figure out how to spell or pronounce a difficult brand name.  Unless your brand name is easy to read and say it could be misinterpreted.

Acronyms that mean something different or spell something you’d rather not be associated with should be avoided. Ridicule might be good for raising profile but is not good for longevity and brand trust. It is also wise to think about how your brand name could be translated into other languages (if you plan to go international) and how well the name works on social media (Twitter handles and hashtags play an important role in the marketing mix).

Whether you decide to opt for the “does what it says on the tin approach”, as we did with “Straight Marketing”, or something more obscure, such as “Amazon” the name is important so take your time and choose wisely.