What’s in a name? Too many syllables probably, and impossible for the reader to connect the name with the product. We have seen too many “cool” brand names get left in the dust of the marketplace simply because they were too complex, too wordy, or too abstract. Remember, you won’t be there to explain why the name you chose is so cool. So, who’s to blame if your potential customers don’t get it, or can’t remember it?
When we started Barefoot Wines, we had a very wise and experienced chain store buyer tell us our name had to be the same as our logo, had to be in plain English, and had to be a term everyone could readily identify with. Over the years, we have noticed that the brand names that last tend to follow this advice and honor a few more rules of our short-attention-span world.
Here then are guidelines for naming your brand so it will be memorable, compelling, and distinguished:
- Short Grunts. That’s right, just one or two syllables. If it’s more, the market will just reduce it to one or two anyway. Three and four syllable names are harder to remember and take longer to say. It’s also nice if the “grunts” rhyme, have some sing-song jingle to them, start with the same letter, or sound like something your customer already knows. Your job, when naming your brand, is to get attention and return buyers. They have to remember the name so they can ask for it and tell their friends. That’s job #1, so make it easy for your customers!
- Value. Your name should communicate the value your product delivers to your customer. That communication can be about the feeling they will have when they use your product such as confidence, security, order, health, ease, fun, etc. When they see and say your brand name, what do you want them to feel? Ideally, they should begin to enjoy your product even before they experience it.
- Image. Stick with a name that brings a graphic image to mind, an image that means something compelling to your customer. If it’s the name of the owner or creator, it will be an uphill battle to establish the identity of dependability, service and quality because those attributes must be proven over time. Tiffany and Mercedes have done just that, but how much time do you have? The name of a person may make the producer feel important but it does not communicate a positive or compelling message in a new brand.
- Product. An ideal brand name identifies the product itself. Perhaps there is a synonym for the name of the product, a nickname, or even a clever misspelling of the name. Names ending in “er” or “or” for instance, are now popularly misspelled with just an “r” dropping the “e” or “o”. Names with “to” and “for” are popularly replaced with the Arabic numerals “2” and “4”. Names with an “s” at the end may have a “z” instead.
- Attribute. A brand name that says what the product does or some attribute of the product is also memorable. Think about what the effect of the product is when it is used, and what it does for the customer. These names can convey action, and in doing so, send a satisfying message of completion to the customer. The name should say what the customer wants accomplished when using the product.
Use these guidelines to help you name your brand with a name that will stick, stand out, and sell!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders