Does the brand name REALLY matter? This month the obstacle de jour is clients agonizing over their brand name. Should they use their own name? Is it too long, especially when using the same as a domain name? Does it speak to the industry it serves? The best answer is that when naming a brand, go with your gut feeling. If the brand is successful, no one will think twice about the name. With that said, it is important to consider how a name might work across media platforms such as in a domain name for example. Long names can be cumbersome to remember and difficult to use on print collateral such as business cards where space is limited. Remember that less is almost always more! A good brand can take on a life of its own regardless of its name. While it is necessary for a brand to have a name, it is not really necessary for the name to speak to the function of the product itself as the real brand-building lies in the story that the brand tells.
Some brand names are so great that they become part of our daily lingo. For example, we don’t search for information, we “Google it” and kids ask for a “Band-Aid” when they have a scrape, not an adhesive bandage. Here are a few interesting facts about famous brands and where their names were derived.
- Amazon: Founder Jeff Bezos wanted a company that began with “A” so that it would appear early in alphabetic order. The Amazon itself was named after the largest river in the world – Bezos hoped his company would have such a commanding presence.
- Google: The search engine was originally nicknamed “Backrub” because the system checked backlinks. Eventually, it was renamed Google which came from the misspelling of the word “googol” which represents the large number 10100.
- Nike: The sporting goods brand was named after the Greek goddess of victory and the “swoosh” is symbolic of her flight.
- Samsung: Korean for ‘Three Star’
- Nivea: Derived from ‘Niveus’, Latin for ‘Snow White’
- Volkswagen: German for ‘People’s Car’
- Lego: A contraction from the Danish phrase ‘leg godt’, meaning ‘play well’ (coincidently in Latin for ‘I put together)
- ADIDAS: A blending of sounds from the founder’s name Adolf (Adi) Dassler
- Adobe: Named after the ‘Adobe Creek’ located behind the cofounder John Warnocks home.
- 7 Eleven: A reflection of their extended work hours (7 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
- Canon: Originally ‘Kwanon’, Japanese for the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Mercy
- IKEA: An acronym comprised of the Swedish founder’s name and native village (Ingvar Kamprad and Elmtaryd Agunnaryd)
- Pepsi: The soft drink was named after the digestive enzyme ‘pepsin’
- Sony: Derived from ‘Sonus’, the Latin word for sound
- Starbucks: Named after a character in the novel Moby-Dick
- Vodafone: A combination of ‘Voice’, ‘Data’, and ‘Phone’
- Wendy’s: Named after founder Dave Thomas’ daughter
- SKYPE Derived from Sky-Peer-to-Peer which eventually morphed into SKYPE.