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The Naru (Naming Guru) has emerged from the naming reflecting pool to finish sharing his/her branding perspectives from earlier this month.

5b.) Literal / descriptive names are better than emotional names when developing specific product names underneath a family brand.

While emotional, short & snappy brand names should establish strong connections with consumers (e.g., Northface, Nike), too many names of this ilk in one’s brand name portfolio tend to dilute brand building efforts. This type of name works well to establish a new product family’s tone and the brand’s “ambiance.” However, when a family brand  adds additional products and line extension names, it is more effective to stay simple and use literal or descriptive names. At this point, it becomes more about communicating what the additional products are and their key benefits to better establish the family brand, than it is to risk creating potential confusion by launching more brand-like names within the family.

6) There is no such thing as a perfect name.

William Shakespeare has an excellent quote that reads, “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.” If we can get past the old English, it’s the “perfect” reference to modern naming. At NameStormers, there is a policy to work with a customer until that customer is happy and it has served us well, resulting in over 80% of our business in recent years coming from repeat customers. Sometimes, it’s well worth the extra effort to really flesh out all the possible creative and viable name options, but not necessarily to find that one name that everyone loves. Striving to find that one unobtainable “perfect” name often ends up diverting the creative effort towards name candidates that no one hates but that no one is really passionate about either. Far better to end up with a name a few are passionate about initially, and that has the potential to excite others when the right window dressing is wrapped around it (a logo, copy and/or advertising), than push a mediocre name that will more than likely produce lackluster customer response.

7) Names with the greatest potential often have the most glaring weaknesses.

This really ties back to the memorability point from last week. Names that are risky often tend to be memorable. Take Google, Starbucks or even the Coppertone QuickCover name. Perhaps, from the Quick Cover name alone, you don’t immediately understand that Coppertone is releasing a new type of sunscreen spray that goes on faster and with less mess than their standard lotion. Many of Coppertone’s consumers tend to be families, and some of the company’s messaging targets mothers of young children. What if a mom was to look at the name “QuickCover” and think, “I don’t want something that is quick, I want something that is strong, protective, and powerful.” Or, “This lotion is going on my 1-year-old who has sensitive skin. Is the spray going to irritate his skin or not afford adequate screening, even though it is fast and convenient?” In reality, “QuickCover,” without the proper context,  could alienate some consumers; however, the name does telegraph a key benefit many might find compelling and memorable. Coppertone also mediated the risk associated with the name through their packaging – including the “Lotion Spray” trailer and the SPF 50 label right after the “QuickCover” name. It reassured those mothers who may have been more reluctant to try it while still conveying the new point of differentiation: that this line extension allows you to “quickly cover” your child. While names that seem too focused on a specific benefit or single emotion might raise concerns during the selection process, they often stand to have the greatest pay-off. With the aid of the right “window dressing” and context, names with a glaring weakness  often become less risky while still being sticky and memorable.

More to come during the next pondering from the Naru.

Click here to read Part I of this installment (this is Part II).

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