Tuesday, February 27, 2007

/. v/s ( v/s The rest

All these companies are talking to the same people that live in Slashdot. So why couldn't they come up with a name as nice as slashdot and what makes Slashdot a great brand name?

For one, the word 'slash' has an aggressive personality. Slash registers much faster in the human mind than any of the punctuation words those other companies have picked as names. Slash is also the most familiar software coding character. Dot has universal appeal. Weaker symbol-words like colon, hyphen, comma and even question mark just don't measure up to the cut and thrust in Slashdot. It also helps that Slashdot has a lovely tagline.

Which brings me to an important point in naming strategy that I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts: Taglines, well written, add value to brand names. Why? Stories. Taglines tell stories. And stories are valuable memoray aides.

Speaking of memory aides, only one of the companies Brandnama points us to uses the stopper-value inherent to the punctuation-name well: Open Parenthesis. Instructingly enough, they have a nice-ish tagline and are doing everything slashdot has done to use the character well.

For a parallel demonstration of what I'm saying, go to Slashdot and to Open Parenthesis. Then, look at their respective address bars. See, that's what smart coders, and people, do to own a brand name.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Blaiq v/s Iqbal

I have an acquaintance whose surname is Iqbal. He has chosen to brand himself Blaiq. This move, I think, can teach us a thing or two about clever brand-naming.

I believe Blaiq is a better name to market than Iqbal. Most obviously, it is more unusual. What with the vowels sandwiched between a comfortable 'b' sound and a strong 'k/q' sound, it also has a nice pronounciation-structure about it. Interestingly enough, it's also neutral. Now I'm not sure about this but taking into consideration the times we live in, Blaiq is a radical naming choice that's safe and sound - because Iqbal says Islam.

Make no mistake, I have nothing against Islam. But thanks to the world, Islam does bring out some very negative associations in people with half a brain. I'm sure Iqbal wasn't thinking about this popular prejudice when choosing to brand himself Blaiq. I'm sure, Blaiq, for him, was just a nice, clever, catchy, easy-to-pronounce anagram of Iqbal. And for me, too.

All I'm trying to get at here is this: If your suggested brand name has a back story with something prejudicially controversial about it, steer clear of it. Go for something that's neutral, rejigged and smart; like Blaiq. Inflammatory and bile inducing post, maybe. But hey, I thought it was an interesting naming claus worth thinking about. Diss it if you wish, but don't dismiss it.

Incidentally, Iqbal/Blaiq also calls himself IQ, which is an even better choice. That said, a name like IQ does put a lot of pressure on the brand to deliver on the promise of the name. Sort of like the expectations that come with having a name like 'Best Buys'.

Monster v/s Cruel World

The introductory post on Brandy Candy got me started on why Monster is a better brand name that Cruel World. While I don't have anything against Cruel World, I do have a lot of love going for Monster. For me, it is one of the best named career sites. And here's why: Monster is one word. Monster is an unforgettable word. A word like Monster has one of the most powerful back stories in the history of words. Monster has the very strong 'st' sound in it. Monster is also a term used to communicate one big thing. Moreover Monster gives the logo designer a great name to have fun with. And it shows. Goodbye cruel world. Hello Monster.

Actually, I do have one problem with Cruel World. I find it inherently pessimistic. I don't think that's a good quality to have in a name associated with job search. Just kidding. (Partly.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Obama & Guiliani v/s Hilary Clinton

I came across this post which posits an interesting theory on Presidential brand names. I wouldn't bet on it. If what Brandnama is saying were the case, all you'd need to come up with a big brand is an exotic name. Just like Presidents are decided on the basis of their vision, the promises they make, the values they stand for, brands too stand for much, much more than a name. Yes, brand names will get your attention. But once that's done, you'll need a powerful story to keep people interested.

Guiliani or Obama might well go on to win the race. But if Clinton loses, it will be because of a lot more than just a non-exotic name. Speaking of funny, unusual names for Presidential candidates, I wonder when Arnold Schwarzeneggar is going to run for President?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Froogle v/s Frugal

When Craig Nevill-Manning was looking for a name for his 20% project at Google, he thought up Froogle. Great choice. For those who didn't know what Froogle is, what would they think of it as a name for? It sounds like Frugal. So it must be something connected with saving money? Question is, why didn't Manning go with Frugal? Because Frugal only rhymes with Google, but doesn't look like Google. And therein lies an important naming principle for brand extensions. If you want a brand extension to riff off the strengths of your existing brand, not only must the extension sound something like the established brand, it must also try and look like it.

And for those of you in the boondocks wondering what Froogle is, it's the name for shopping site run by the guys at Google. It's also proof that all it takes to come up with a good name is common sense and bit of simple thinking. It's not rocket science.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rocky Balboa v/s Rocky 5

So I saw Rocky Balboa last night and wondered why it wasn't called Rocky 5? Hmm...would Rocky 5 have made for a better name? I don't think so. I think they got the naming game right. Rocky 5 would have riffed off Rocky 4. And Rocky 4 was shit. In fact, the last 2 Rocky movies before Rocky Balboa weren't up to scratch. Rocky 5 would have had to deal with that baggage.

Strategically speaking, to name it 'Rocky Balboa' was a good move. It took people away from the immediate associations with the previous Rocky movies and made it seem like a new product from 'The Stallion's' stable. A lesson in smart brand extension that other marketer's would do well to make a note of. That apart, the name Balboa has a good ring to it. It's got some strong 'B' sounds and a nice 'aa' to end it.

Never thought Rocky Balboa would make for a marketing case study, did you? Well, if you think about it, why not? Agreed, Rocky Balboa isn't a terribly inventive name. But it doesn't have to be. The brand had some old equity going for it in the form of an already established brand name.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ytivitaerC v/s Creativity

When I was looking for a name for my Creativity School, I racked my brains and that's what I came up with. What do you think? I think it's pretty creative. It's a fine way, I think, to reflect what my product is about, i.e. creativity. Of course, it doesn't adhere to all the necessary naming priniciples I've been yammering about here, but it does reflect the one thing that I've always tried very hard to be: Original. I believe creativity is about looking at things differently and I thought this was a pretty different way of looking at the naming matter.

Of course, the damn thing is nearly impossible to pronouce, very hard to spell and seemingly meaningless...at first. But once you get it, it comes. In other words, it's a lot like creativity. Good choice Über.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Khosla ka Ghosla v/s Khosla ki Zameen

Why is Khosla ka Ghosla a better name than Khosla ki Zameen? Exactly. That's right. You've got it. You've been listening. You've learnt a bit from all my posting. And now you're ready for some cool branding.

It's okay to come up with long brand names. The only thing you must keep in mind when you're coming up with longer names is making sure they have a few memory helpers. Rhyme is one of the most basic and most powerful memory helpers. Thow in a bit of metaphor and it'll make it even better. Trust a bunch of advertising guys to come up with a cool brand name for a movie.

Who says all movie names have to be unimaginative? In fact, they can't afford to be colourless when they don't have any big brand names built into them. The name Khosla ka Ghosla is a reflection of this principle of movie naming: If you don't have the big names, you need a cool name. What movies also need are more guys from advertising.

Advertising may be one of the more reviled professions in the world, but it does have some of the most interesting and sensitive people in the world, too. Dibakar Banerjee, Jaideep Sahni take a bow.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Reebok v/s RBK v/s RBK's

What made Reebok change a memorable and easy-to-pronounce name like Reebok and opt for a non-word? Initials that are brands tend to be two-initial brands. 3 initials rarely work as brand names. Initials that are brands, most memorable ones, can be pronounced as words. RBK can, but only with some difficulty. So why did they do it?

Maybe they expected people to say Aar-B-Kays, which doesn't sound that bad. In which case they should have rebranded themselves as as RBK's. If you want to be an initial you might want to consider being a plural. Plural initials are easier to remember because they're easier to belong to.

In a category like sporting and lifestyle products, the belonging factor can add a lot to building brand equity. If they had come to me, I would have asked them to tag the apostrophe 's' to the initials. The apostrophe would have created a memory cue by way of the visual disruption it causes and the possessive 's' would have engendered a feeling of belonging.

Thankfully for RBK, they didn't go and change the logo. Unfortunately it looks like ADIDAS is going to kill the brand. They shouldn't. What ADIDAS should do is reposition it as a cult, alternative brand.

Lynyrd Skynyrd v/s Lehnerd Skinnerd

Now I've often said vowels in a name make for a good brand name. So how come a name like Lynyrd Skynyrd that's so hard to spell, so hard to pronounce and without any vowels is such a great name? Apart from the fact that they made great music, something which came after the name, what else does the name have going for it?

Well, you don't have to have vowels in a name to make it a great name. Hang on, a second. Did I just contradict myself? Yes and no. A name made up of only consonants in which one or more of the consonants is pronounced as a vowel sound doesn't need vowels because it has consonants. Come again? Most certainly. The thing about Lynrd Skynrd is it has two vowels in each word. 'Ly' is a vowel sound. 'Nyrd' has a vowel sound built into it. What else does it have going for it? Repetition. Come again? Precisely. Visual and aural repetition, that's what the words Lynyrd and Skynyrd enjoy.

Words without vowels look odd and when you make up two odd-looking words that look and end similarly - with hidden vowel sounds - you've got yourself a complex admixture of memorable naming principles which throw up a mind-blowing name. Less interesting is what they would have looked had they chosen to brand themselves Lehnerd Skinnerd, minus the 4 Ys. (Though, repetition would still have stood them in good stead.)

In one way, the name Lynyrd Skynyrd is similar to another name I had spent some time analysing; Red or Dead. Also check out some of the unmemorable names they had before they hit upon Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now I hate saying this but since I did, I'll say it. As you ought to be aware of by now, repetition helps.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

RuDa v/s Puma v/s Adidas

Fact of the matter is, no matter how stale an interesting fact is, it's still interesting. Jumped into this when I read this. And then, I decided to jump into a quick analysis of what if RuDa had been launched as the brand instead of Puma? Would RuDa have made for a better brand name? No. Why? Because the name Puma comes with very powerful back story that adds equity to the word. And while RuDa does sound stronger and more macho, Puma sounds classier, cooler, faster and more graceful - all useful qualities to have in this category. At the end of the day, a brand name for a fashion, sports and lifestyle product that riffs off one of the meanest cats in the animal kingdom definitely makes for a better choice than a name like RuDa, which starts without much of a back story and with not much more than a strong 'D' and an end 'A' sound going for it. My gut feel would have gone with Puma. And so would research. Put differently, would I rather have a Puma at my feet than a RuDa? Yes.

Interestingly enough, I think RuDa makes for a better name than Adidas. One reason: 'RuDas' sound way cooler than the shortened form of Adidas, which is 'Adis'. It also sounds stronger. So why is Adidas a bigger brand than Puma? Ah well, if you've been paying attention you ought to know by now that naming is not the be all and end all of good brand strategy.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nike v/s Swoosh

Says Brandnama, "In a country like India where people are more verbal than visual, Nike's decision to drop the name in favour of just the Swoosh is a Himalayan Blunder." Is it? There's no doubt about it, Nike is a great brand name. It has everything that a good brand name ought to possess. It's short. It has a 'K'. It's has a good ring to it. It also has a perfect balance of consonant and vowel sounds. All of which makes it a memorable brand name. So why did they drop it in favour of the Swoosh?

I don't think they have dropped anything. I'd argue the Swoosh is Nike. In an attempt to simplify communication, they have decided to drop the words. The world is going more visual. Visual is the word of the day. Even literate people take a little time to get the pronunciation of Nike right. Significantly, words are easier to plagirise. Visuals make for more powerful and more integral symbols of brand ownership and memory recall than words. I don't think the Swoosh is anything else other than Nike. I do know that there are more than a few versions of the word 'Nike'. I think Nike's decision to drop the name from the Swoosh is an interesting one. I think it's a emotional step up in an evolutionary direction that makes some communication sense.

The big problem: People who don't know Nike are going to look at the Swoosh and wonder what it is. That, I think, is the biggest and the only challenge Nike's communications partner is going to have to address. An interesting debate, to say the least. Contribute.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Eklavya v/s Ghost Rider

Last night I watched two movies. The first thing I noticed about them were their respective names. And then, I wondered which of the two names is better? (I can't help it, my hobby is analysing names.)

For this argument's sake, let's take our audience to be English-speaking. The people who don't speak Hindi and with little knowledge of Indian mythology will be unaware of the story of 'Eklavya'. For such people, 'Eklavya' will be little more than a strange sounding, hard to pronounce Indian name. For them, the name 'Ghost Rider' will win the day. For them, the story of 'Ghost Rider', the comic book hero will be an instant aid for brand recall. That said, 'Ghost Rider' will not make much of an impression on people from India. In fact, 'Eklavya' will triumph in the Indian mind for almost the same reasons 'Ghost Rider' will in Western minds. Both 'Ghost Rider' and 'Eklavya' are edgy, legendary characters in their respective societies. What does this little digscussion teach you about naming techniques? Simple. Keep the stories your target audience knows in mind and then think of a name that can draw on these stories.

Now let's assume for a moment, neither of the names had any back story. In such a scenario, which is the name that is likely to make a greater impression? Without a doubt, 'Eklavya'. Why? It's one word. It ends with an 'A'. It has a 'K'. It has a 'V'. It has stronger consonant sounds. Test it. It'll prove me right. The only thing 'Ghost Rider' has going for it is 'Ghost'. Sounds, stories, breaks...these are some of my faourite pings, when it comes to better brand names.

Incidentally, the above two movie names prove what I had to say about the seeming blandness of movie names. They don't have to be exciting. The stories these movies tell make for a far more intensive, packaged, rapid-fire brand experience than any of the things we conventionally know and buy as brands off store shelves.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Googled v/s Torrented

If your brand name can turn itself into a verb, it's destined to be a winner. The secret to coming up with brand names that have a better chance of being used as verbs lies here: Choose a brand name in which the last letter is an 'E', preferably preceded by a consonant. This thought bubbled into my mind when I was trying very hard, and very clumsily, to use the brand name 'Torrent' the way I use 'Googled'.

Idea v/s Airtel v/s RIM

It's IPO season in India and one of the most high-profile IPO's is from Idea Cellular. An Aditya Birla Group company, Idea is easily the best named cellular operator in the country. Why do I think so? Well, because some things just have to be repeated. It's a word with positive associations. It's a simple word. It's a word. What else? It has a 'D' in it. It ends with an 'A' (which is one of the smarter things you can do with a name). The reason Idea is not the number 1 cellular operator in the country has less to do with the name than the fact that they were one of the last entrants in the market. And yet, it happens to be the top-rated IPO of the season. The way I see it, a good name can overcome a lot of things. Parting shot: Another top name with a 'D' and an 'A' in it.

Ditto v/s Same

If you had to choose between 'Ditto' and 'Same', which one would you go for? Ditto. Rule of thumb: When you're down to one of two brand names in which one of the two names has two letters in it, go for the one with two. Double vision scores higher points on the brand recall charts. That apart, 'Ditto' also qualifies on some of the other parameters of good brand-naming that I have referred to many a time in my other posts.

Speaking of 'Ditto' on the web, I don't think the name fits. A name like 'Ditto' would work very well for a very different kind of product; one that still hasn't been made. Sometimes, an interesting name/word can become a product idea.

Monday, February 12, 2007

David v/s Goliath

Goliath - A clumsy mover. Difficult to pronounce. Slow across the surface of the tongue. And with no hard sounds to stop-start the word. The name that's nimble, comfortably ensconced between two strong 'Ds' and with a more positive back story, David, wins this war, too. There's an advertising agency in India that calls itself David. They started off as RMG-David. And then, decided to drop the meaningless 'RMG' for just 'David'. Good choice. 'V', 'D' and 'A'; these are just some of the letters you should consider using in your proposed brand name. Don't take my word for it. Do some research on the most popular brand names in the world and you'll see.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Name gallery #23: 7/10

Great logo that adds value to the interesting name.

Edun v/s Nude

If you've been good students of brand-naming you might be inclined to believe 'Nude' is a better name for a brand than 'Edun'. No, not just because 'Nude' is nude. Leave your dirty minds out of this and put your mind to the principles of phonetics that I've been trying to hold forth on. Strong end word sounds, strong end word sounds and, that's right, strong end word sounds. There you go. See how firmly the word 'Nude' ends? Doesn't that make it a better brand name than 'Edun'. Edun is soft. 'N' is mild. 'Nu' is easier to pronounce than 'un'. Right? Wrong. Maybe. I suspect Bono was looking to subversively plant the place 'Eden' in our minds with the name 'Edun'. So which works better as a brand name, 'Edun' or 'Nude'? Tough call. Both have strong 'D' sounds. Both have interesting back stories. Both have potential. (And you thought it was easy being a thing namer.) If I had to choose between 'Edun' and 'Nude', I'd go with 'Nude'. And you? Think about it. Meanwhile, let's all thank the trivia star Brandnama for this discussion.

Post script: Bono does seem to know a thing or two about brand naming. He has 'RED' as the name for the campaign to make AIDS history. And now he's got 'ONE' as the name for the campaign to make poverty history. So much nicer than some tired weak line thrown in as an after-thought urging people to make this or that history. The great thing about brand-naming social causes? Brand names are easier to remember, and market, than sentences.

Taurus v/s Touareg

You'd think a zodiac sign would make for a more memorable brand name than something new, wouldn't you? Well, you're wrong. Research will prove that 'Touareg' is a better brand name than 'Taurus'. And I don't need research to tell you why. When it comes to brand names, the brakes in the name are important memory-helpers. Crisply translated what that means is that the 'G' in 'Touareg' is one of the important things that makes it a better brand name. The 'G' is a better stop sound. Try it. Say 'Touareg' and see how cleanly the name stops on the last letter. Now say 'Taurus' and then think about how much easier it is to slide off the end 'S' sound. When it comes to brand names, you need firm stop-start sounds in the name to make a greater impact. In this brand war, full marks to 'Touraeg'. Other strong stop sounds, to name a few, are 'D', 'P', 'K' and 'T'. Interestingly enough, the 'Touareg' also riffs off the existing memorability of the zodiac sign and adds value to this by throwing in a great stop sound in the end. (It also helps that the 'Tuareg' is the name of a desert tribe from West Africa.)

Agreed, the Ford Taurus and the VW Touareg are not the same category of car. But we've already seen how in competitive times like ours, names from other categories can cannibalise mindspace from one and other. All said and done, 'Touareg' has got many of the things that make for a great brand name. I repeat: A great back story, a smart feed off an existing association and a strong stop sound. Stop.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Stock tickers v/s Non-tickers

Brandnama has done a very interesting bit of digging around and come up with some memorable NYSE stock ticker symbols. I've been following the stock markets for a year now and the thing that makes for a memorable stock ticker symbol, for me, is whether it can be read and pronounced as a word. In my diversified portfolio of stock tickers brand names, the ones I remember most easily are the ones that have vowels and consonants in them and can be made into words. Stock tickers that cannot be remembered as words don't tick. Now go back and look at the list of interesting stock tickers Brandnama has compiled. Every one of them is a word, isn't it? Then, think of the stock tickers in your portfolio. The ones you can recall are words, aren't they? Thank you.

Rule number basic: Make sure your stock ticker can be spoken like a word. Rule number value add: Link it to your category.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TJ's v/s Tihar Jail

TJ's is an Indian brand of potato chips, pickles, jams, bread, biscuits and cakes made by the inmates of Tihar Jail. (Hat-tip to Bradnama for this bit of information.) Whoever thought of the name for this product has done a fabulous job. Apart from the fact that Tihar Jail would never work as a brand name for products patronised by the judgemental middle-class, TJ's also works because it looks better than 'Teejays' and has all the phonetical virtues of 'Teejays'. A strong consonant sound to start and break the name. The most common vowel sounds in the human mind to continue and end the name. The dynamic 'way' sound to cut through the clutter. And the coolness factor all initialised nicknames have.

Initialised nicknames have spaces in our mind that reference qualities of familiarity and peer-group approval. Another case of the 'TJ's-effect' is the case of 'PJ's' for an Irish pub called 'P. J' O'Reilly's' in Abu Dhabi. All this to say two things. One, if your brand name is an initial, you've got a better chance of being remembered and admired (important when it comes to a brand name). And two, if you don't want to go with initials for a brand name, at least pick a name that can be shortened and remembered as an initial. Interestingly enough, if you study some of the branding tendencies of whisky makers in India, you'll see how well initials work for them. Initials are easy to ask for. Most people don't like asking for things. And that's why you could do worse than choose an initial as a brand name.

The problem with initials: They're common. Solution: Make sure the story behind the initials is an interesting one. Interesting stories help people remember the abbreviated form better. And abbreviations are a better way to remember the story. Caveat: The second initial of your brand name must not be a vowel. Research will show you that the best remembered 'initial' brand names all end with a consonant.

Name gallery #22: 7/10

Case in point of a name being made more memorable because it has three 'i's, 'i', 'j' and 'i'. Look at it and the first thing that will strike you is how lovely the three dots look back at you. Meaning what? Meaning, how a logo is designed to take advantage of certain interesting things in the letters contained in the name go a long way in making the name more memorable.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Red or Dead v/s Red or Yellow

Came across this lovely site via Brandnama which made me think about why 'Red or Dead' works better as a name than say something like 'Red or Yellow'. Apart from the stronger impact that a word like 'Dead' makes on the human brain - seeing that we're so obsessed with mortality and other such matters - it's also down to rhyming. Nursery rhymes are like memory sticks that have been planted in our head early. They've taken root in our subconscious. As a result, anything that rhymes is likely to work well as a brand name. If you had to choose between a name that's a rhyme and one that isn't, the roots of our learning patterns say you're better off with the name that does. In other words, memorising a poem is a lot easier than memorising this paragraph.

Naming claus: Repetition, rhyming and shyming are good tactics when you're trying to come up with memorable names.

Name gallery #21: 7/10

Speaking of funny names that don't make nonsense.

Funny names v/s Unfunny ones

I think the verdict is out on whether advertising can afford to be funny. It must. Well, no it doesn't have to be funny but we can all be clear about the merits of doing advertising that makes people smile. Funny is more memorable. Question: How many funny brand names can you think of? How many brand names can you think of that make you smile? I don't know about you but 'Ovaltine' sounded pretty funny to me. Does that make it more meorable? I think it does. Do we need more funny brand names? I think we do. If funny is a great way to break the clutter in advertising, I'm sure it'll work well enough for brand naming too. Between a brand name that, just with the name, makes me smile and a brand name that doesn't do anything, I'd go with the funny name. That's it, here's what I'm going to do for all my clients: Every time I have to give them a bunch of new names, I'm going to make sure there are a few funny ones in there. And how am I going to sell these funny names? Well, the same way I sell advertising that makes people smile - with a smile.

Interestingly enough, there aren't too many funny brand names in the world. All the more reason, we need them. They're hard, rare and risky. And that's why you must try them. If you can make people smile with just your brand name, you've got a good thing going. That said, humour is one of the most difficult things to do. Go practice.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rubbish v/s Cool

God knows where Mr. Brandnama finds these nuggets. Speaking of why they may have chosen to go with that kind of a brand name, I think they're trying to exploit that segment of the market which subscribes to what I call the 'no logo' logo school of thinking. For the uninitiated, No logo is an interesting piece of work by Naomi Klein. People who might have been influenced by this piece of work and other schools of thought against big branding find ways to protest the hegeomony of marketing by going in for anti-branded branded stuff. Mixed up, I know. Well, that's how some people in this world are. It's an interesting niche worth thinking about. Some call it the niche of anti-cool. Next time you want to launch a brand targetting the black sheep of society, you might want to try and do what Rubbish is, perhaps, trying. Just be sure you know the midnset of the people you're angling for. Other brands that fall into this school of anti-selling would be 'Death' cigarettes, 'FCUK' and 'SIHT'.

Naming claus: The black sheep who don't want to follow the herds of branded sheep will buy antibrand-named brands.

Movie names v/s Brand names

Before anyone pounces on me and says movie names are also brand names, I'll say this: I agree. And now that we've got that out of the way, let's do a quick pow-wow on the difference. So why do movie names tend to be more descriptive than brand names? Why don't brand names for products make an obvious reference to the product story? Why do brand names tend to be more interesting sounding than most movie names? Brandnama has this interesting take on the difference between movie names and brand names. Well, let me re-phrase that. Brandnama tries to give us one side of the reason movie names tend to be less evocative than brand names. Here's my side of the same multi-sided story. I think movies have more than a brand or two already built into them, in the form of directors/stars, studios, producers and the like. When you have the power of more than a few brands backing you, you can afford to have a less interesting name to launch you. Brands from large, well known companies are good examples of this 'names that do less' tendency. It's the little guys trying to make a splash for the first time that tend to go for more interesting brand names.

Naming claus: If you're a brand from a known stable of brands, your name can afford to be less interesting. Of course, that's not the bottomline.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Baby talk v/s Big talk

Brandnama has a great post on the value of listening to babies talk. Here's why I think babies can give you some great brand names. Babies mispronouce words. These mispronounced words make us think of the original words. Tick. These mispronounced words make us smile. Tick two. These mispronounced words make us do a double take. Tick three. A memorable brand name is all about making an instant impression. Right off the top of my head, I've thought of three ways in which mispronounced words make multiple instant impressions on a grown-up mind. Very thought-provoking stuff.

Flora v/s Nataraj

When you're thinking of names for your product, you sometimes wonder whether your name should, in some way, refer to the product category. Here's my take on the matter: The product category in the name matters if it's a new one. A familiar product in a category with many brands is better not alluded to when you're trying to launch a new brand. Example, pencils. Everyone knows pencils. So if you've got to launch a brand of pencils, go crazy and try and come up with an interesting brand name without worrying about whether the brand name should allude to pencils.

Speaking of pencils, let's talk about two of the oldest brands of pencils in India: Flora and Nataraj. In terms of the basics of brand naming, they both do quite well. Flora has a nice and simple feel to it, it is easy to pronounce and it rolls off the tongue easily on a set of alternating consonant vowel sounds. Ditto for Nataraj. So what makes Flora a better brand name? It scores on the visual connect matrix. Flora is good example of a brand name that is in sync with the look and feel of the product.

A quick deconstruction of the 'Flora' visual connect matrix goes like this: Flora means something to do with flowers, the pencils have flowers on them. The visual fits with the brand name and thus registers better on the mind-map. Nataraj loses out on this parameter. But only just.

Naming claus: Try to map the name of your newly launched product with the first thing people will visually notice about your product. It will make the name easier to remember.

As an interesting strategy aside, the first name that comes to mind when you say pencils, in India, is Nataraj. This might have something to do with Nataraj having chosen to go the 'single brand for different kinds of pencils route', as opposed to Camlin that has different brand names for different pencils. And of all these brands of Camlin's pencils, Flora is the best recognised brand. Hmm...fascinating stuff, this business of branding.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Roots v/s New

Pay attention to the roots of the words you're jigging and rejigging to come up with interesting brand names. How the meanings of various words have evolved, been passed down and registered in the conscious to the subconscious corners of the human mind have a lot to do with how people will take to your chosen brand name. Examples: Yahoo means the joy of something and finding something. Googol is a big, big number that means something very mathematical and therefore smart and thus a good person to go to for advise. Mango is delicious looking. Orange is fresh. The roots of a good brand name lie in the connections the words connected to the brand name have made with human beings through the ages. To understand what makes some brand names more succesful than others, understand memes.

Naming note: If your brand-word/name is rooted in a word with a stronger counter-meaning, it will have a very hard time working its way into a space that's already lived in.

Bananaslug v/s Google

If you want to take on a market Überleader like Google, you need a very evocative name - Bananaslug most certainly is. The word 'banana' reminds you off banana peels which remind you of slipping on something unexpectedly and quickly imprints on your mind the Bananaslug difference rather subliminally. Bananaslug also has strong start and end consonant sounds sandwiching the easy-to-recall alliterations of 'na-na'. Futhermore, the name has an effective memory cue in the form of a rhythimic 'consonant-vowel' phoneme flow. I don't think the name is very good but it is rather different - like the product. Strategically speaking, Bananaslug is a well-differentiated move against Google.

Takeaway tip for the people at Bananaslug: Since Bananaslug is about serendipitous connections, differentiate it as 'the search engine for creative people'.