What makes a great brand name? – Part 1: Memorability

What makes a great brand name?” We can use the desirability of a brand name by three dimensions: memorability, strategic fit and legal protect-ability. Let’s start by exploring the first criteria: memorability.

Our brain is a marvel of evolution, an organism that continually computes information. According to the information theory, the human body sends 11 million bits per second to the brain for processing. Here is the kicker, though. Our conscious mind seems to be able to process only 50 bits per second! 

Therefore, the easier you make it for people to memorize your name, the more successful you will become. There are four tactics for making a brand name more memorable.

There is a huge discrepancy between the amount of information being transmitted to our brain and the amount of information we process.

Make it short

Our brain likes short names. Word length effect suggests that we recall lists of short words better than lists of long words.

Ideally, a consumer-brand name should be two-syllabled. (Google, Wal-mart). Any name longer than three syllables is a concern, particularly in B2C brands.

MAKE IT distinct

Our brain likes what’s different. Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to a whopping 4,000 ads each day. Granted, we cannot pay attention to every single one of them. Luckily, we have a mental defence system for dealing with advertising overload.

Perceptual blindness or inattentive blindness happens when an individual fails to perceive an unexpected stimulus in plain sight. One of the sub-categories of perceptual blindness is purposeful blindness, which helps us ignore marketing messages. As a result we can filter out irrelevant input.

The way to fight purposeful blindness is creating something distinct. As long as a brand name is different within its frame of reference, our mind will go the extra mile to remember it. (Kodak, Exxon)

MAKE IT visual

Our brain like images. Going back to the information theory, roughly 90% of the 11 million bits that our human body sends to the brain for processing comes from our eyes. In other words, our brain disproportionately prioritizes images.

Therefore, if you could associate a mental image with a product/service, people might remember it better. (Ford Mustang)

MAKE IT emotional

Our brain like emotion. Clotaire Rapaille, a renown expert in marketing says that emotion is directly related to learning. Emotion is the energy that creates biologically released transmitters in the brain, thereby establishing these neural pathways.

In other words, emotions enhance memory. Therefore, any name that can elicit emotions is easier to memorize. (Pampers)

Of course there are other ways to make a name more memorable. Can you name a few?

Today’s actionable tip: People name their dogs and babies and they think naming a brand should be easy. Unfortunately, naming is a deceptively difficult task. You may want to consider hiring a brand strategist with a good track record. Look at his/her portfolio before hiring anyone.

On our next next post we will focus on the strategic fit of a brand name.

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