Successful brand names - how they come about

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 3, 2003

When a company looks for a new brand name, the marketing team needs more than a list of ideas or a brainstorming session, according to research from US-based brand developer, Strategic Name Development (SND).

According to SND, good brand names are built on a solid marketing strategy, linguistic familiarity, extendibility and legal availability. Every year there are many more trademark applications in the US (over 280,000) than the number of words in the average English dictionary (only 80,000). It follows, then, that words are not enough. Careful consideration of the target market is often the missing ingredient in the brand naming process, the firm's research suggests.

Certainly, most consumers and business customers prefer brand names that are easy to remember, easy to pronounce, make them feel good about their purchase, and reflect the essence of the brand promise. To prove this theory, SND conducted an internet-based survey of 20 newly launched brand names in the USA - some of which are already on the market, and some of which are soon to be introduced.

Missing the target
More than 800 consumers participated in the study, which examined the new brand names' memorability, pronunciation, aspirational perception (how good the name makes the consumer feel), and the target consumers' perception of what the name evokes in their minds.

The results of the survey led SND's analysts to the conclusion that, although each company examined might have spent months developing their new brand name, it still may not resonate with the consumer or business customer at which the brand is targeted.

The ones that missed
The survey revealed that spending vast amounts of money on advertising a name is no guarantee that people will remember it or relate to it. Some examples are given:

  • Only 11% of respondents could recall the name of one particular product that had been given an advertising budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. Worse still, only 8% could identify what kind of product it was.
  • Another recently-launched brand name was recognised by only 8% of respondents and, even after being told its name once, only 13% were able to recall it.
  • Only 7% of respondents could recall hearing the name of a particular newly-launched confectionery product. Again, product category association was weak: after hearing the brand name, almost one in five said that it sounded like a cleaning product to them.

How to succeed
The survey found that consumers and business customers are not necessarily thinking the same way the marketers are. SND's clear advice is simply to talk to representative samples of a new product's target market. They may well have a different way of looking at brand names, and it's the buyer's perception that really counts.

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