Why do brand names fail? Part 3

This is the third and the last installment of our “Why do brand names fail?” series. The first part focused on the process-related mistakes. The second one looked at tactical errors. Our last installment has a combination of both. Let’s roll.

  1. Names are very context-dependent. Therefore, you should carefully chose your style. A four-syllable Latin word like let’s say Birra Ichnusa, is the wrong direction to go if you want to be seen as friendly and casual. On the other hand, if you want to position yourselves as a pioneer, try a name that’s unusual in your industry. Toyota did that with Prius. You always your name to allow you to tell a story. Pick a name that serves as a conversation starter.
  2. Globalization has made naming much more difficult. Therefore it is important to consider the global implications of the name you chose. The rumour has that the original name of Enron was Enteron, which was quickly shortened to “Enron” after the brand was implemented. It is useful to know that the Greek origin of the word enteron means “male anus”. In retrospective, Enteron would have fitted the Company better, I think… Then, of course there is the famous Chevrolet Nova story, which actually was an urban legend.
  3. One thing that you should definitely avoid is having naming contests. Do not open the naming process up to everyone. Everybody knows how Gap’s new logo saga ended. The same thing definitely applies to naming contests. Do not ask for suggestions from friends and other uninformed sources. It rarely produces the kind of strategic options that you need.
  4. We hate to say it, but you should bring at least 5 names (depending on the scope of the project even 15 names) into your legal search. Unfortunately, most of the names are not available anymore. Therefore, you should cast your net wide. But there are cost effective ways of conducting legal search. We will write an article on that too…
  5. Finally, never expect a focus group to pick your winning name. Humans are like cats: we are creatures of habit. Deep down, we don’t like change. Status quo is safe for us. Therefore, use focus groups either early on in a naming assignment for learning what’s important to customers or to figure out the existing connotative meaning in the consumer’s mind.

That concludes our trilogy. Why don’t you tell me what other common naming mistakes you know?

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