The Name of the Game

Article by Sylvie Saunders, Head of Words Pearlfisher

From energy brands to home furnishings, the pros and cons of renaming is something of a hot topic in the brand industry. With a recent influx of self-explanatory, simple naming, we could start seeing a backlash if brand stretch isn’t considered and built into the name from the start. A great name needs to have the courage of its convictions and if brands aren’t buying into their own monikers, what hope for consumer buy in?

Many companies decide to change their name, products, logo or other branding items for a variety of strategic reasons. At times, the name change is a desperate attempt by a company to disassociate itself from a current or previous negative public image. It may need to reflect a merger or acquisition. For others, it’s about tapping into a new consumer mindset and audience — and this seems to be where we are now.

Photo: Everything Everywhere’s logo

The emphasis on forging an emotional connection with the consumer has seen a flurry of brands looking for ways to address this with more emotive and aspirational naming and brand signage. Whilst an all-embracing choice, Everything, Everywhere is not necessarily as simplistic as maybe first supposed. Not only is it still often supported with its strapline ‘the parent company for T Mobile and Orange’ but is now instigating a further name change for its consumer group, by favouring EE. In the FMCG world, there were the well known cases of Marathon changing to Snickers, Opal Fruits to Starbursts and Jif to Cif. All done in the name of globalisation. It may cause a stir for a while but if done with enough conviction, it soon gets accepted and the names settle into people’s lives and vocabularies.

Recently, successful bed company The Sleep Room decided to branch into other rooms in the house, taking the risky and very probably costly decision to make loaf.com its new home. The look and feel remains the same and the name is certainly an attractive one. As a descriptive word it suggests the feeling of homeliness rather than specifying the goods on sale, so it’s very probably the right decision, but begs the question, did their future trading potential not enter their original naming discussions?

It’s possibly easier for newer brands to adapt and change (their name and other facets of their business) as they grow — and for this to be accepted by their public. But what about when it comes to our brand giants; our icons? Ironically, just when the brand news is praising the fact that Cadbury has won the right (after a 4 year fight) to stop rival chocolate makers Nestle using its signature purple colour there is debate about whether (and when) the iconic brand might be renamed. Kraft Foods Inc is in the process of implementing a corporate name change for its global snacks business. ‘Mondelez’ is a made up name — purported to be a combination of the word “monde,” derived from the Latin for “world,” and “delez,” an expression for delicious.

A good invented name can, of course, spark a different sort of love and create a personal connection with the consumer – particularly when they create an immediate impact. Think . An invented (but deliciously onomatopoeic) name that implies something that a more functional name might destroy. Rather than simply telling people what it is, it engages the imagination, meaning many things to many people. But, of course, a new brand is already an open book and not a re-telling — or re-titling…. Mondelez replacing Kraft in some areas of the business creates ongoing speculation as to whether the brands within the portfolio — with Cadbury the one cited time and again — might also ‘suffer’ a renaming that might make them globally universal but lose layers of meaning and emotional resonance as a result.

A great name has clarity that reveals brand intentions, but also has depth and room to manoeuvre — as has always been the case with Cadbury, a surname that has become imbued with British taste and quality over time. The creation and evolution of its iconic identity system — incorporating the equity of its name — has given it the design flexibility and stretch to adapt to flavours, audiences sub-brands, formats and variants without anything as drastic as a name change.

Essentially, what is clear — and for both new and established brands — is that a great name needs to create powerful identity that’s built to last (and stretch). It needs to be supported, believed in, nurtured and given every opportunity to find a way into people’s hearts and minds.

About the Author

Sylvie Saunders is the Head of Words at Pearlfisher, London


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