When a youth brand is launched, how much thought goes into its name? Not as much as it should!
Take a random sample of recently launched products in the hair category: Livon, Numis, Silk n Shine - all being advertised heavily on MTV.
Does any one them have resonance or character? The first two sound like stuff your doctor might prescribe and the third is absolutely unimaginative and literal!
A great name can set the tone for a brand. It leaps out from the clutter all around and says "Look at me! I'm made for you!!"
Let me illustrate what I mean. The magazine I run is called J.A.M. People always want to know what the full form of that is. The answer is "Just Another Magazine".
"Gosh, that's interesting!" is the usual reaction. This little piece of information communicates something about the magazine's character - that it's quirky, and different. So:
a) It evokes curiosity - that's an obvious effect
b) More subtly, it communicates attitude.
Which is what building a brand is all about.
Now this is of course only the first step - further the product itself should live upto the readers expectations in numerous ways. Like it should be widely available, well priced, contain interesting articles, have quality printing etc etc.
But this first impression which the name makes, I am convinced, has been crucial to JAM's success.
Every youth brand wants to have 'attitude' and if the name itself can communicate that - it's like "well begun, half done".
Examples of brand names which I think rock:
FCUK - the clothing brand reached iconic status, its clever choice of name contributed a good deal!
Nike - the company was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports. (Can u imagine Blue Ribbon shoes ever reaching teh status Nike has? I can't!)
It was only 8 years down the line that Phil Knight rechristened the shoes he sold as 'Nike' - from the Greek godess of victory.
Of course, more than Nike, the name, it was the 'swoosh' trademark which became iconic. So when I say 'brand name' I really mean the complete package - logo design included.
Like FRIENDS was a good name for a show about 6 young singles in New York. But even the way it was written, the font and the dots in between - that was interesting!
But remember the first Rule of Cool.
You never shout "I'm cool".
When people see, you they just know that you are.
It happens all the time. With their friends and peers, young people can instinctively tell who's really hip ie has a style of their own and who's a wannabe.
Similarly, a brand must communicate coolness in an authentic way and not come across as a wannabe.
So an Indian company (Madura) choosing a foreign sounding name (San Frisco) for its jeans is a bad idea. The product is good, but the consumer - at some level - may feel that it's not authentic. ie "If I want a foreign brand I'd rather go in for a real foreign brand eg Levi's, Lee, Wrangler..."
The name has been shortened to SF jeans but the point is - why not anticipate the problem and choose a name that's really unique in the first place?!