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Branding > Naming


What is naming?


Compared to other forms of copywriting, the naming of products would seem to be relatively easy. After all, names are usually only one or two words long. In reality, naming is probably the copywriter’s most challenging task. 

Why is naming important?


  • Branding - names function as tags, blank slates on which brands invest meaning through everything they do. Rolls Royce is the names of the two founders. It means what it means because of everything that followed. The modern brand marketer is impatient. They expect the name for a new brand to be invested with meaning. Ideally, they would like it to encapsulate the brand (as ‘Innocent’ does). At the very least it should evoke a key aspect of it, such as the proposition (‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’), the positioning (‘The Independent’, the personality (‘Land Rover Defender’) or the values.

  • Positioning - a name should reflect and support the brand’s positioning. If you have a luxury brand, there should be a hint of luxury within the name. A luxury clothing brand will make a different choice of name to an everyday surface cleaner. It has to feel right. One tactic is the decision to go with Latinate over Anglo-Saxon language: a choice between multi-syllabic and intellectual vs direct and simple.

  • Recognisable - a distinctive name allows the brand to stand out from its competitors. Although, the brand strategy might indicate that you wish to feel and sound similar to your competitors. For example, car competitors often name their companies after their founder (Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin). This strategy helps to establish them as a player in their market.

Considerations for naming


  • The need for meaning - URLs for all the words in the English language have been taken. Yet clients still want names with meaning - they appear everywhere on every touchpoint and it defines the brand. The trouble is that these words are often taken.

  • What is the brand strategy - what is the positioning? The values? The personality? The more of these questions that the name can capture, the better the name. But the name can’t always fulfil all of these criteria.

  • Lost in translation - words have different meanings in other languages. This requires a thorough vetting process, as these words won’t be the same.

  • Semantics - the first letter of a word can change how a word is perceived. X is sexy, B is straightforward. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research asked participants to associate the artificial words mal (back vowel sound) and mil (front vowel sound) with a large vs. small table. Over 80% associated mal with the large table.

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Benefits of the Barnaby Benson approach to naming

  • Comprehensive understanding - we have lots of experience working with brand consultancies. We’re highly sensitive to the brand strategy and so we see the naming direction that flows from it. But we’re also creative - some of the best names come from spotting things in the brand that might previously have been overlooked in the brief.

  • Strong, clear messaging - because we have such a thorough message development process, our naming is informed and disciplined, from conception to refinement

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