Welcome to Brandsmart 2010!

Attend the Chicago AMA Conference on June 24

Join us here for lively discussion and interaction about brand relevance. Find out what topics and issues will be highlighted at the conference and contribute to the conversation.


Brands 201: What is in a name?

Name recognition may help define the success of a brand, but it certainly requires more than just the name. Think for a moment about the top ten brands that quickly come to mind. What do they have in common? Are their names short, concise and easy to say? What scope of appeal do they have? What, if any, emotions do they evoke? How do they differ? How does your brand compare?

While a brand’s name may be important, it’s not all about the name. There are many different types and styles for brand names, varying from acronyms, founder’s names, descriptors,etc. A rulebook for how to best determine a name for brand does not exist. In fact, a brand can be built up from nothing to something when coupled with right marketing, advertising, public relations and outreach. The name, in many cases, is just the starting point.

So what is in a name? Here are traits and examples to consider:

Creativity. A brand’s name does not always have to utilize a traditional meaning or be a real word. Take for example the story behind Kodak and the creation of its name. When making a decision about how to name his company, George Eastman made up the name – Kodak. His rational being that the letter “K” had always been one of his favorite letters, because as he said “it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” Who would have guessed that this name would later be so widely used and recognized? Sometimes all it takes to begin building a brand is a little imagination.

Relevance. While you cannot predict the future when naming your brand, being aware of the reactions and hidden meanings that may influence your consumers is key. What brand of cookie would you prefer to eat – Hydrox or Oreo? It is hard to believe that Oreos are the generic brand, created a couple years after the Hydrox cookie. Many have noted the name Hydrox sounded more like a cleaning agent than something edible. If naming a cookie based off the periodic table elements hydrogen and oxygen may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it definitely did not prove to be a sweet deal for Hydrox. These cookies are no longer being made.

Recognition. Some brands are so well known in the market that their name alone defines the market segment. These brands are known as proprietary eponyms / genericized trademark and typically dominate the market. These brand names are their own vehicles for word-of-mouth marketing. Such brands include, but are not limited to: Band-aid, Kleenex, Scotch tape, Xerox and Post-It.

What brand names would you consider successful? What brands have failed to launch because of their name? Let’s discuss.


  1. Thought this piece was a nice compliment! From brand-taxi.com:

  2. I really like the term "proprietary eponym". I'm going to try to use it in casual conversation more often.