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Decoding the Essence of Brand Naming: Trust, Triumphs, and Timeless Lessons

In the ever-evolving realm of brand development, few aspects hold as much weight and influence as the choice of a brand name. In a world where brands vie for our attention at every turn, the quest for the perfect name becomes a crucial part of establishing identity and connection. Mike Carr, a seasoned expert from Austin, Texas, recently shared insights that cut through the clutter of naming conventions to reveal a fundamental truth. As he discussed the essence of what makes a great name, he offered a perspective that goes beyond the superficial to touch the core of brand integrity: trust.

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Naming: Controversy or Trust?

The conversation around brand names often starts with their ability to grab attention. Names like “Big Ass Fans” or “X” (formerly Twitter) certainly turn heads with their boldness or simplicity. These names break through the noise with their uniqueness, but as Carr suggests, the journey to a great name doesn’t end with just being noticed. Controversy or edginess might draw eyes, but they don’t necessarily endear a brand to its audience for the long haul.

Carr points to brands like “Feastables” by Mr. Beast and “Native” as examples where emotional connection plays a pivotal role. These names evoke imagery and feelings that resonate on a deeper level with consumers. “Feastables” conjures up images of abundance and satisfaction, aligning perfectly with its food product line. “Native,” on the other hand, suggests purity and connection to nature, an appealing proposition for personal care products. Such names move beyond mere attention; they start to foster a relationship with their audience by appealing to their emotions and values.

However, Carr underscores a critical point: the promise implied by a name must be fulfilled. “Native” faced controversy for not living up to its natural and pure connotations, and “Big Ass Fans” found itself embroiled in a patent infringement lawsuit. Even “Feastables” encountered legal trouble with one of its product lines, “Deez Nuts,” over trademark issues. These examples highlight the pitfalls of not ensuring that a name accurately reflects the brand’s reality. Discrepancies between what a name promises and what the brand delivers can erode consumer trust, proving detrimental in the long term.

This brings us to Carr’s central thesis: trust is paramount. A name must do more than just attract attention or evoke emotion; it must build and maintain trust. Trust is the foundation upon which lasting relationships with consumers are built. It’s what turns first-time buyers into loyal customers and advocates for the brand. Without trust, a name, no matter how catchy or emotionally resonant, falls short of its potential to truly represent and uphold a brand’s values and promises.

Carr’s advice, drawn from nearly four decades of experience in the naming industry, serves as a reminder of the weight a name carries. As businesses embark on the journey of naming or rebranding, the emphasis on trust should guide their decisions. A name that embodies authenticity and reliability stands the test of time, fostering a deep and enduring connection with its audience.

In conclusion, while attention-grabbing names may provide an initial spark, it’s the underlying trust and authenticity that truly kindle a lasting flame in the hearts of consumers. Brands like “Feastables” and “Native” remind us of the power of a name to evoke emotion and connection, but also caution us about the importance of fulfilling the promises those names imply. In the end, trust is not just a component of a great name; it’s the very essence that sustains and nurtures the bond between a brand and its community. As we navigate the crowded and noisy marketplace, let us remember that the most resonant names are those that build, earn, and maintain our trust.


Mike Carr (00:05): 

Hello, everyone from Austin, Texas on this cloudy Tuesday. I have one question for you today. What’s the single word that’s key to a great name? Now, some of our clients would say attention-grabbing. Now I know that’s not one word, it’s two words, but if you put a hyphen in front of it or between, it’s like one word. So we’re going to pretend attention-grabbing is one word, and that’s important. No doubt. You need to cut through all the clutter that’s out there. All the noise and the attention-grabbing name could do that. So what’s an example of an attention-grabbing name? One of the names that comes to mind is big ass fans. Big Ass Fans, is certainly a bit risque, raises a few eyebrows, might offend some, but might get others to chuckle. And regardless, it grabs your attention. Another name is X, the beloved Twitter that was out there and everyone knew what Twitter was all about. 


Then all of a sudden, here comes X rocking around. What’s that all about? Such a radically different name. Also very controversial. So you might think, well, maybe controversy, right? Maybe a name that’s a little bit edgy. Is the word the key to a great name? And I don’t think so. I think that’s part of the way there. But let’s talk about a couple brands that have been hot in 2024. For those of you that know Mr. Beast, he has an incredible social media presence, been incredibly successful, and he launched a brand called Feasts for Some Food Products. And Feasts is a more emotional name, right? It conjures up this idea of a big feast, something that’s really going to satiate and satisfy your appetite. Pretty cool. Name connects emotionally, and we know that’s where you need to go for memorability. So that’s an interesting name. 


Another name that’s out there, and that’s been growing very fast this year, and actually prior to this year is Native N-A-T-I-V-E. Now, that was purchased by Procter and Gamble a few years ago, I think it was back in 2017 for about a hundred million dollars. And they’ve turned it into a really successful brand for shampoo and body wash and soaps, that kind of stuff. And the whole idea behind Native is it also connects emotionally back to Mother Nature, things that are cleaner, that are healthier, that are more natural. And so that emotional connection that both feasts and native bring to the table is hugely important for resonance, for grabbing the attention of your target, for cutting through the clutter, for creating a name that’s memorable. So is emotion or emotional a keyword? And it’s important, but it’s not the word what we believe, what I believe the keyword is. And it sort of goes back to the history of some of these names. Let’s talk about native first. Well, native is involved in a lawsuit because native may not be quite as clean, quite as healthy, quite as pure as their advertising would lead you to belief. And so the brand may imply something. The name may imply something with all the collateral, the words wrapped around it that it’s not true. 


Big ass fans was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit, which they ended up winning, I believe. But nevertheless, there was some litigation around that. Mr. Beast Feasts came out with some line extensions underneath the Feasts Master brand. One of those was called DE’s nuts, D-E-E-Z-D-E-E-Z, nuts. And they got sucked into some trademark litigation lawsuit because they’re infringing on someone else’s trademark, A D’s nuts, DEE apostrophe S nuts, which I believe was in Florida. So trademark infringement lawsuit, and that’s one of the things we’ve talked about before, is how important it’s to make sure you’re not encroaching upon someone else’s legal rights. And then X controversial, yes, but certainly offended a lot of the folks that had become used to and loved what Twitter was all about, what tweeting was all about. So in all four of those examples, there are issues with either promises made, expectations created that weren’t lived up to. 


So I believe we believe that the word that is absolutely paramount when it comes to naming is trust. If the name doesn’t help, support and build trust in authenticity in your brand, your company, your service, your nonprofit, it’s not going to really do what you need it to do. Long-term now, we’ve been helping others name things for almost 40 years, since 19 85, 19 86, probably longer than just about anybody else that’s still in business. A lot of our customers are repeat customers who trust us. So as you move forward with your new name or your naming exercise or growing your company, please, please, please don’t forget how important that very short, very single word is. Trust. Best of luck to you. Much success. 


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