Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Name gallery #20: 7/10

I like the hybrid name, the inventive use of the number in the logo and the way the number and the word for the number are perfectly integrated. Smart stuff.

Odd v/s Even

This post about a brand named '7 for mankind' got me musing on something odd about brand names with, or that are, numbers. A quick research will tell you that most 'number brands' prefer an odd number to an even one. (Cases in point are brand names like 3, 9, 7/11, 7-up, 57, 3663 and of course 7 for mankind, to name a few.) Why are odd numbers more memorable? Simple: Even is not odd enough to stand out. Takeaway tip: If you must put a number in your brand name, go with something odd.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I v/s U

An interesting thought popped into my mind. Much like Apple has captured the 'I' in our minds, Youtube seems to have usurped the 'U'. How did this occur to me? Well, I was playing the Name Game and the first brand that came to mind when I came to the letter 'U' was Youtube. (No, I didn't think iPod for 'I', but that's because Apple is a stronger brand.) Is it just me or is it also the same with you? Map this against the marketing strategies of Apple and Youtube and you'll realise how well the 'letter-capture' works for them. Apple is a company that's about individuality and Youtube is a brand about user-generated content. Hmm.

Country v/s Country

Going by the principles of naming expounded by yours truly, yours truly is of the opinion that India and China, to name but two, are good, memorable names to have for a country. So which is the least memorable name for a country? I don't remember. (Imagine if people felt that way about your newly, lovingly launched brand.)

Incidentally, if you did spend some time analysing country names, you'll realise how nicely they adhere to the principles of good naming. Examples: Japan, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh...notice the stop-start pattern?

Thingnamer v/s Brandnama v/s Brandaclaus

The Name Game is catching on. Here's my list of 26 names after each letter of the English Alphabet. Where's yours?

Well, boys and girls what can we learn from this? Off the top of my head, this: That strong consonant sounds are the key to memorable brand names. That soft vowel sounds don't make as much of an impact on the mind. That a soft touch will only work as a counterpoint to a hard sound. And that's why you should always choose brand names that alternate between soft sounds and hard sounds. Go back to my top-of-my-mind list to see what I mean. Think of your own list and you'll end up doing what I mean.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hungary v/s Bulgaria

And Bucharest v/s Budapest. Any name is a brand name minus the brand and that's why I'd like to spend a few minutes trying to understand why people confuse Budapest with Bucharest and Hungary with Bulgaria. I have a friend from Bulgaria whose country of origin I sometimes confuse with Hungary. Ever wondered why? I did. And no, it has nothing do with bad Geography. I rock in Geography. Ask me the capital cities of most countries in the world and I'll reel them off within and without the blink of an eye. So what makes me confuse Bulgaria with Hungary? The same things that you should keep in mind when picking a brand name for your product. Take a closer look at the cities and countries I have mentioned in this post. Look at where the 'G' in Hungary and Bulgaria is. Look at where the 'R' is. Look at where the word Bucharest stops for the first time. Look at where Bucharest and Budapest come to rest. See the connections? No? Look again. Look long enough and you'll learn a few valuable lessons in brand naming. Clue: Good brand names are about stop-starts and strong consonant sounds. End of this lesson.


Why is the brand name FCUK more evocative than the not-yet-brand-name STIH? both FCUK and STIH are rejigged from the original 'dirty words'. What makes FCUK more memorable is the fact that the first letter and the last letter of the original word is in the same place in the rejigged word. Lesson in dirty-word re-branding techniques? If you're looking to make up a brand name from the seven dirty words in the English lexicon and want your name to riff off the already branded-in-your-mind dirty word, make sure the first and last letters of your new brand name are in the same place as that of the dirty word. Example: SIHT will make a better brand name that STIH. Thanks for this dirty thought, Mr. Brandnama.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

China v/s India

Brandnama has an analysis-inducing post on the top 20 brand names in China. The top 5 names in that list have the word 'China' in them. What does that say about the Chinese consumer and how different is he/she from the Indian consumer? What does it say about Chinese companies? I think what it says is that when it comes to marketing, Indian companies have the edge. So why is China so far ahead of India in the economic race? I think it has something to do with discipline and unity. Other things that the list of Chinese brand names says about India and China include things like Indians are more individualistic and prefer names that don't riff off 'India'. No, make that Indians were more individualistic. Today, if I had to choose between a brand name that alluded to India and one that didn't, I'd stick my neck out and bet on a name that drew on 'India'. 'Made in India' is a label that's on the rise, I think.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Name gallery #19: 7/10

Now this is what you call a great name. Lateral and memorable. Apt for the product it's hawking. Almost perfect. Perfect. (Because nothing can ever be perfect.) Elbows.

Bata v/s Nike

It's a no-contest, right? Or is it? When it comes down to just the name, I think Bata is just as good if not a better name than Nike. For one, Bata is easier to pronounce. For two, Bata is more memorable because of the repetitive sound it carries. For three, the 't' in the Bata is a stronger consonant sound than the 'k' in the Nike. So, given a choice, which brand would you buy? Exactly. Just goes to show why it makes sense to have a tagline to go with your brand name. The next time you come to me for a brand name, be prepared to buy into a tagline or two. Incidentally, I buy Bata.

.xxx v/s .com

An interesting defensive naming strategy is outlined in an article I read about the introduction of .xxx names for websites that want to identify themselves as having content of the sexually explicit kind. According to the article, the first people who will go ahead and register .xxx domain names are corporations that have nothing to do with sex and want to make sure nobody registers their names as .xxx domain names. Thought provoking.

NBA names v/s Names

I agree with brandnama in this post on names from the NBA. I think what makes them names so catchy and evocative is the fact that they are prefixed by cities/names that have already done some free advertising for the team names. So what's the lesson of this little story? If you want an evocative brand name, try to make a name out of a name that has already made a name for itself but isn't a registered brand name. Cases in point, the names for the teams in the Premier Hockey League: Chennai Veerans, Maratha Warriors and Sher-E-Jalandhar to name three.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brand names v/s Mirror names

In a post on how to arrive at interesting and weird brand names, Brandnama illustrates some examples of doing so. What struck me about this was how similar the mirror brand names seemed to the original brand name they were a reflection of. The point I'm trying to make is a point I have been grappling with from the moment I started thinking about brand names. Do brand names become visuals in our mind's eye? How good a word looks might have a bearing on how memorable your brand name turns out to be.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Name gallery #18: 5/10

Interesting name but rather clumsy to say. What say?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Category v/s Category

When you have to come up with a brand name for a product, would you consider competing brand names as those in the same product category or from across product categories? In this day and age where the competition for mind estate comes from across product categories, it's an interesting thought worth considering. On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer. There seems no doubt in my mind that the only competition for name recall would be from other brands in the same product category. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that information clutter affects brand choices across categories. For instance, if the 5 most important things on my shopping list are from across product categories doesn't that mean brand choice 2 in product category A is competing for mind space with brand choice 1 in categories B, C, D and E?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquasomething v/s Aquaspeciale

From this post I discovered that if you want to launch a brand of mineral water, the one thing you must not do is prefix it with the word 'Aqua'. (Make sure people ask for it by brand.) In fact, the reason 'Evian' water is special is because it repositions water as more than just water by moving away from 'Aqua'. Unlike in some other product categories, branded water should not allude to water in the brand name; it cheapens the brand. And it does so because water has been free for so, so, so long. No matter how much advertising you do, if your branded water is 'Aqua-something', it's not much more than 'branded' water. By branding it as 'Aqua-whatever' all you're doing is reminding people that they're paying for something that used to be free. Honestly, the more I think of brand names, the more convinced I am of the genius of the brand builders at Parle who came up with names like 'Thums Up', 'Gold Spot', 'Frooti' and 'Bisleri'.

Name gallery #17: 7/10

First launched in China, I love the fact that the name riffs off the very classy/sophisticated connotations associated with a 'Ming' vase.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

S's v/s _'s

If you pick a name, try and make sure it has a comfortable apostrophe 's' sound. Asking for a name that doesn't lend itself to good apostrophe 's' pronounciation is just asking for a little more trouble in an already troubled, brand littered landscape. Consider this, how many brand name's can you think of with Joost/Boost like apostrophe 's' unfriendly sounds? Becks, Mexx...hmm, maybe there's a gap or three in this line of thinking. Maybe it's a rule that can be safely done away with. Well, I just thought it was worth thinking about. After all, if you're investing in a name, it doesn't harm you to invest a little time in some odd little other things.

Joost v/s Youtube

Youtube wins. It's just a much smarter name that Joost. It's also easier to understand. It alludes to the product category. It's easier to pronounce. It has better-placed consonant sounds. Joost just sounds wrong. Still, a name isn't the only thing that makes or breaks a product. So do watch that space, it's the future of TV. If I needed a name for a Youtube like product, I'd goose down to Brandnama, check out this post and then decide who to give the job to. Joost dissing apart, it does have a nice logo. Unfortunately, it's not an offline product - the only place a great visual logo is going to make a brand-shattering difference is offline and off the shelf. I think Joost is destined for namemory anonymity. If it succeeeds it will do so no thanks to the name.

Name gallery #16: 5/10

Don't care much for the name but love the logo.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who won the Ashes? v/s Colonial Cousins

So me and some mates were at this English Pub a few nights back for a trivia quiz. The task on hand was to come up with a name for our team. We racked our brains for 3 minutes and narrowed down our choices to the names mentioned above. Eventually we went with the former. Here's the rationale for doing so. Hopefully, it will help you decide which name to go with when you get in touch with me for your set of brand names.

We chose Who won the Ashes? because we were in an English pub and were looking for something that would grab a lot more balls than a name like Colonial Cousins. That said, considering we were a team of Indians and Aussies, the latter wasn't such a bad choice. It's just that since we were there to launch ourselves, we thought it made more sense to go with 'more timely' and 'more provocative'. Instructive thoughts, I think, if and when you're faced with a clutch of name options to choose from.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Name gallery #15: 6/10

Like the name 'engadget' enough to give it a '7'. Don't like the 'engadget' logo as much to hold on to the '7'.

Brand Names v/s Brand Name Numbers

Brandnama starts this thought off with this link post. He notes that Ikea has memorable names for every one of its products while Nokia only has forgettable numbers as names for its models. I'm not sure Ikea's naming system is working here because all said and named, the name Ikea is the only memorable name in Ikea's stable of names. Besides, sub-products are more likely to fail than succeed or simply be replaced time and again which is likely to dilute the equity of the mother brand. clear cut answers here just an an interesting thought worth pondering. Are we better off naming our sub-products or does it make more sense to go the Peugeot and Nokia number-naming route?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Du v/s Etisalat

There's no question about it, Du wins hands down and takes the pants off the name Etisalat. Why? Isn't it obvious? It's short, it's sweet, it's hip, it's short for Dubai. But what about the rule that a good name has strong consonant sounds? Well, between a clatter of strong consonant sounds and a distinct consonant sound, a distinct sound is at a distinct advantage.

Gut feel v/s Second thoughts

When judging a brand name should you go with your gut feelings about it or think about it, research it, analyse it, cook it and then arrive at a considered considered opinion about it? My gut feeling says that more often than not your considered opinion will not be very different from your gut feeling. For instance, if the names Namix and Brandnama were to be analysed and researched for recall, relevance and effectiveness, I think Brandnama would win. And yet, Namix is a more successful brand naming solutions brand. Hmm.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Old Spice v/s Axe

This has all the makings of a mega brand war. In the red corner is Old Spice from Procter & Gamble and in the black corner is Axe from Unilever. In my book, this name war goes to Old Spice, for sentimental reasons. That's the thing about brand names, they appeal to people for all kinds of reasons. In other words, it's good to get emotional about brand names and go beyond the usual rules like short, sweet and simple. Click on the link for a quick take on the Old Spice way.

Namix v/s Igor v/s Brandnama

Isn't it odd that a company that positions itself as an expert in providing naming solutions can't do better than a name like Namix for itself? What does Namix have going for it? It's short, it's sweet, it's coined from the words 'name' and 'mix'. What wrong with it? It doesn't feel right. It sounds like a name for something in another product category; like pharmaceuticals or even consumer durables or maybe food. I say it finishes third in this naming war. That said, it does have a buzz around it. All of which goes to say that naming matters, but not that much.

Incidentally, Brandnama has done a post about Namix that makes me wonder whether the names Camry and Elantra are intentional anagrams or did the wordsmiths at Namix work it out because they love playing with words.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Coke v/s Pepsi

The brand names don't matter. The cola category is an interesting one. It's an area where fluff is substance. Which is probably why most colas have very little personality in their names per se. When it comes to colas, I think, all you need is a brand name that adheres to the basics: short, sweet, simple. In purely naming terms, Coke v/s Pepsi is a dead heat. Think about it. How many cool cola names can you think of? If you ask me, Thums Up is the best cola name I have ever come across. And that's not saying much, is it?

Convenience v/s Inconvenience

Coming up with a brand name is not the hardest part of getting yourself a new brand name. There's the paperwork and the headaches that you have to deal with when it comes to registering the brand name, checking whether it's available and other such administrative matters most people don't have the patience to deal with. In a world with little patience, a concept like namesale will work.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Name gallery #14: 7/10

Fool disclosure: I prefer this name to Google.

iPhone v/s Motorazr

The Razr wins hands down. But then, I own the Razr and I love edgy names. What's interesting though about Apple's overall naming strategy is that they seem bent upon owning the 'i' in everything. And everyone. The more you think of the 'i', the more you think of Apple. Or at least that's what, I think, Apple is aiming for. Smart strategy when you consider how much brand Apple is wedded to the quality of individuality. For a snarky post on the coming iphone domain name war, check this from Brandnama.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Orange v/s Lemon v/s Mango v/s Apple

Lemon is an advertising agency. Mango is a brand of Apparel. Orange is a telecom service provider. And Apple is Apple. Which name wins this naming war? I'll say names. Orange and Apple, the two names that stand out in their respective category. The rest, for me, are names trying to be creative in product categories that already have a lot of names trying hard to be creative. Lesson: If you want your name to stand out, you must take a look at the other names in your product category. Full marks to Orange and Apple for seeing the boringness of the names of their peers.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Festember v/s Pulse v/s Down Sterling

Brandnama has written a rather nice post on the names of college cultfests (cultural festivals) around India. I've picked three from the lot that I like for this war. For me, Pulse wins hands down. Down Sterling is a close second and Festember a distant third. Why does Pulse win? It ties in nicely with what the people who organise the festival are studying to be. And why do I like Down Sterling? It's an evocative riff on the location. Festember is a distant third because it's a fairly interesting way to combine two words but not quite unique enough. Enough.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yahoo v/s Google

While Yahoo is a better name for a variety of consumer-friendly reasons, I think Google is winning partly because the name Google is more appealing to the early adopters, the geeks, and partly because it has a better product. That apartlies, the success of brand Google demonstrates why brand names are just a small part of the overall marketing mix. For me, Yahoo wins the battle of brand names but is destined to finish second best in the brand war.

Name gallery #13: 7/10

A great name that is losing to an inferior name with a better overall brand strategy.

Blogger v/s Typepad

Blogger wins. It's easier to pronounce. And even though Typepad has more emphatic consonant sounds, I think the 'P's in Typepad are too close to each other and make it a bit of a mouthful. Admittedly, the product category is less about pronouncing and more about typing but how well it sits in your head also makes a difference. True, Blogger is a generic brand name but since it's a relatively new product category, I think the generic quality helps. All said and not done, Blogger is my chosen one. (Maybe it's just the logo.)

Short v/s Long

My friend who decribes himself as the nobody in everybody has an interesting post about the longest brand names in the world. Now most of the so-called naming experts will tell you that if you are thinking of a name for your product, you are better off with a name that's short and sweet. But if you look at his list of rather long brand names, they're all pretty well known brands. Conclusion: The next time I come up with a long brand name for your product, think about it. And then dismiss it. Maybe.

Maddox v/s Zahara v/s Shiloh

Maddox wins on points. Shiloh is second. And Zahara brings up the rear. Points to be noted: Maddox and Shiloh have consonants breaking up the names. Zahara has the weakest consonant sound. Answer: There's no question about it, one of the proven ways of coming up with a memorable brand name is to think of words with strong consonant sounds.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Brandnama v/s Brandaclaus

Brandnama hits the ground running because it's easier to type on the keyboard. Interestingly enough both names have the same number of 'A's. That said, I think the fact that 'nama' is closer to the word 'name' makes Brandnama a better choice. The thing going for Brandaclaus though is that it alludes to a famous brand name. If Brandaclaus weren't a dotcom brand, it might stack up better against Brandnama. All said and not done, Brandnama wins this naming war.

Name v/s Name

In my series of interesting questions with no easy answers, here's another one: Does it make sense to compare the merits of brand names from different product categories? Answer: Think about it.

Google v/s Gatorade

The reason Gatorade is a better brand name than Google is the hard-edged sound the 'T' in the name lends to it and the greater number of syllables in the name. Soft sounding names with fewer 'tongue-impressions' make less of an impact on the human brain. If all you have is a name, make sure it has more syllables, because more syllables make a bigger nympression. Fortunately, Google has more than a 'soft' name going for it. And while we're playing games, check out this game.

Name gallery #12: 7/10

Got it? That's why I like it. I also like the qualifier that goes with it: NEWS FOR NERDS. STUFF THAT MATTERS. When you need a name, think of the target audience and come up with something only they will get. Nothing complex about it. Unfortunately.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What's in a name, baby?

I'm surrounded by people with babies. As a result, I'm also surrounded by people trying to come up with the most unusual names for their babies. It says so much about your own ego when you try to think of names for your baby. All this to say if you're interested in keeping track of trends in baby names, you could do worse than check out Name Voyager. And what does all this have to do with brand names? Well, doesn't it?

Fat Bastard v/s Ugly Stik

While it's definitely a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks kind of name guaranteed to get you very high brand recall, would a Fat Bastard appeal to the delicate sensibilities of wine-drinkers around the world? In my experience, the wine business is less about brand names and more about things like vintage, country of origin and sophistry. Which is probably why Fat Bastard decided to make a splash with Fat Bastard. Interesting call. Another name that reminds me of Fat Bastard but works much better for me is Ugly Stik. Of course my clients would think very hard before buying into a name like that, too. Why do I prefer Ugly Stik? Because it makes a reference to the product category.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Name gallery #11: 5/10

Simple Simon Says

The thing about thinking about brands is that we do too much of it. We find more and more ways to make brand building as complex as impossible. The same goes for brand names. Here's an old story on brand-naming that's even more relevant in this day and age of ultra-thinking. Guaranteed to spark off more than a few heated discussions.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The advantages of eponymous branding

If you've been in this world long enough and have a certain amount of personal equity, it makes sense to name your brand after yourself. Why? Basically, since you've spent some time building yourself as a brand, your brand will cost a lot less to build. The dangers of eponymous branding boil down to how you manage yourself as a person. If your brand is you, you've just got to make sure you handle your life well. Of course, that's easier said than done. And that's why you must read the other side of eponymous branding.

Why names don't matter that much

If your product sucks, no matter how great a name you or anyone else comes up with...ah well, you know the rest. Case in point is this boring, boring name that is one of the biggest brands in the world today - thanks to some very provocative post name thinking.

Name gallery #10: 6/10

Why do I like it? It feeds off the equity that the RAZR has garnered and comes off sounding much smarter than it really is. Good call. Al and Laura Ries may not approve. Note: I don't think the phone will do very well. Will that harm the RAZR? I think not.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Bachchan v/s Srivastava

His father was a famous name: Bachchan. And that's why Amitabh decided to use his father's name to build his brand. Thank God he didn't go to Al and Laura Ries for advise. They would have urged him to go with Srivastava.

India Shining 2006

My list of the top 10 brand names in India for 2006, in no particular order:

1. Infosys
2. Reliance
3. Airtel
5. Sachin Tendulkar
6. Aishwarya Rai
7. Sonia Gandhi
9. Compooter
10. Bachchan

Koi shaque? Bring out the chai and let's talk.

Brandnama 2005

Here is the list of the top brand names in 2005. Interestingly enough only one name in the list alludes to the product category. Hmm...something to keep in mind when you're considering a brand name for your product. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for this year's list to come out. My guess is, thanks to Razr, Motorola might sneak in.