Naming tips – number 36 in a series

What does your brand name mean?

If you don’t ask this question with research, you may run into trouble. Look at every name candidate very critically.

There is potential danger when people are looking for meaning in a name and finding none. Or if you’ve endowed the product with a name meaningful and positive to you but not to your market members. This includes names derived from coined words (which I endorse as the strongest type of brand name), from mythology and legend, from history, and even from geographical origins.

For instance, naming a PDA or a hard drive “Minerva” may sound appropriate because of its old connotation of being wise. That name was originally given to the Roman goddess of wisdom. But without knowing its origin, many would just think it a woman’s name with little association with a powerful information product.

In another context, you may inadvertently adopt a name with poor, even vulgar or silly connotations for certain geographic or cultural market segments. Remember when Incubus was introduced, only to be hastily rebranded after learning the moniker had originally belonged to a mythical, medieval demon who made love to women as they slept.

It’s always a good idea to have your most favored name candidates researched for unfortunate associations and connotations, for vulgarity or embarrassing foreign meanings, and for words so similar in spelling or pronunciation that they might “take over” your brand’s associations and meaning.

Martin Jelsema

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