NAMING #7: BE POETIC

A hundred years ago companies generally named themselves after their owners or their location.

They might choose a snappier brand name for products but they were mostly practical and descriptive.

But early brand names did sometimes get poetic, with elegant metaphors to summon up a vision of the ideal.

The idea

There’s a delicate balance here. How can you describe what you do clearly yet add a touch of the idyllic to your brand?

How about Robertson’s Golden Shred marmalade with its strips of orange peel, and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate? They’re such familiar brands in the UK thats we have almost forgotten their meanings and the feelings that they were designed to evoke when they first appeared on jars and bars in 1996 and 1905.

The current trend is to use short names, sometimes invented, that don’t already mean anything, rather than make an associate with something that already exists, just in case it has negative associations somewhere around the world.

Evocative names abound in fine perfumery, like Tauer Perfumes’ L’Air du Désert Marocain. The late lamented Keep It Fluffy, by B Never Too Busy to be Beautiful, and my favourite, Let Me Play the Lion, by LesNez.

Band names go from the ultra short – U2 – to the more lyrical, like The Divine Comedy, The Imagined Village, Snow Patrol. Then there are the Canadian bands Crash Test Dummies and their friends Bare Naked Ladies (who are men with their clothes on).

Some of the most inventive names belong to bloggers: A Donkey on the Edge, If You Lived Here You Would Be Home By Now, Random Acts of Reality and 66,000 Miles Per Hour.

In practice

  • The accepted wisdom these days is to keep brand names short and snappy, but if your organisation isn’t the short, snappy type, go against the grain. Not everything has to sound like a new car name.
  • Make evocative names memorable. If they’ve too many words, customers tend to remember them wrongly.
  • Cass Art uses “Let’s Fill This Town With Artists” on their shop fronts. It doesn’t have to be your brand name that you use on all your signage; you can also use a statement of intent.

*Maybe not quite all of them.

What do you think?

Have you got a favourite brand name? Or one that you think’s simply diabolical? Do share…