What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually…

Brand naming is a contentious subject.
A recent spate of so-called ‘blanding’ has seen brands adopting names
that don’t actually mean anything. Mastercard dropped its name altogether
in a brave rebrand that rests on the strength of its logo alone.
And then there’s the saga of MeToo hummus.

This locally-produced, gluten-free, vegan hummus brand may tick a lot of trend-led boxes when it comes to product, but its name has become a sticking point in recent months following the rise of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. People simply don’t want the weighted hashtag staring back at them when they open the fridge.

Earlier this month MeToo owner Ramona Hazan told The Guardian that she’s planning to change the brand name to something ‘more straightforward’ after originally basing it on her experiences as a child, trying to raise her voice above siblings by crying out ‘me too!’

Hazan’s story just goes to show how crucial the naming decision is to a brand’s success. When launching a new brand or undertaking a company rebrand, it’s critical that the chosen name is firmly rooted in the brand’s product and purpose.

Many CEOs and entrepreneurs make the mistake of using a term or phrase that means something personal to them but more often than not this is meaningless to their consumers and they struggle to connect on an emotional level. Or even understand what the brand is about.

In the case of MeToo, a rebrand makes perfect sense. The #MeToo movement holds too much importance and gravity and should be left alone to do what it was created to do – empower the movement against sexual harassment and assault.

So, how to build resilience into a brand name? When launching a new brand, there’s a lot of pressure to get this right because, frankly, you can have the best product in the world, but people will always remember – or not remember – a name, whether good or bad.

This isn’t to say brands have to play it safe. When cosmetics brand Urban Decay first launched it was met with confusion. Some consumers found the name off-putting. Others just thought it was odd. But the brand really shook up the category and as it became more well-known, so the popularity helped to normalise the name.

In our experience, a resilient brand name starts with the brand itself – its product and purpose. Whether it reflects a sense of place to give weight and authenticity to the brand like British sparkling wine Bride Valley or nods to the true craftsmanship of product development like Monkey Shoulder, a powerful brand name captures the unique qualities that make a brand and its product or service special.

Define this and you’ll be one step closer to the perfect – resilient – brand name.