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Understanding the Role of Naming in Brand Success

By Ashleigh Hansberger
Posted on 05/28/23
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Establishing an innovative brand requires extensive effort and expertise, especially in a constantly changing market. However, one crucial aspect that is frequently neglected is the process of ‘brand naming.’ Regardless of the size or industry of your organization, allocating resources to the brand naming process is essential. Careful consideration in naming your brand sets it apart and creates a captivating narrative that resonates with your desired audience.

Creating an interesting brand name is like laying the groundwork for a building. Similar to how a sturdy foundation upholds the entire structure, a fitting brand name upholds all branding elements – such as identity, image, and reputation. Naming isn’t simply a matter of being creative; it involves understanding the trademarking process, utilizing the history of names, and then connecting the dots around how it will tie to your brand name.

Etymology – the study of the origin of words and the way their meanings have evolved – provides a nuanced perspective that enriches brand naming. By leveraging etymology, brands can imbue their names with depth, context, and meaning that resonate powerfully with their audience. This article aims to shed light on the importance of brand naming and its interplay with etymology, with insights drawn from Motto’s successful naming work with our clients.

The Power of Brand Naming

Brand naming is the cornerstone of a brand’s identity. It’s the first touchpoint for potential customers, underpinning a brand’s mission, values, and offerings. A well-chosen name differentiates a brand in a crowded marketplace, capturing and holding consumer attention. Motto® has created many successful and iconic names in the marketplace and we know the power of what a name can do for a brand.

For example, ‘Green Mustache,’ the first-ever fruit and juice smoothies for kids, instantly communicates the brand’s core offering through a playful and memorable name.

Similarly, ‘Avenir,’ the leading brand of audiology care in Canada, uses the power of etymology in its brand naming. Avenir, a French word meaning ‘future,’ aptly conveys the brand’s forward-thinking approach to audiology care, establishing a solid connection with its audience.

Etymology and Brand Message

Understanding the etymology of a name can significantly enhance the brand message by adding layers of meaning. For instance, ‘Biown,’ a line of microbiome supplements from Reckitt, suggests personalization and control over one’s health. The fusion of ‘bio,’ representing life, and ‘own,’ conveys the brand’s commitment to individual well-being. The depth offered by the etymology of this brand name elevates the brand message, making it more engaging and impactful.

“I develop experiential, metaphorical, and evocative names, not functional or descriptive names. A creative name will stand out and express your brand's difference.”
Ashleigh Hansberger, Chief Strategy Officer, Motto®

Brand Tone and Personality through Names

A strategic name can effectively communicate a brand’s tone and personality. Consider ‘Drift,’ an innovative brand of sand tables for HoMedics. The word ‘Drift’ invokes images of calm, serene beaches, perfectly reflecting the brand’s tone and personality – tranquil, relaxing, and soothing. Etymology plays a critical role here; understanding the origins and connotations of the word ‘drift’ allows the brand to align its name with its desired brand persona.

Etymology in Key Touchpoints

Brand names, enriched by the power of etymology, can significantly enhance critical touchpoints in the customer journey. For instance, ‘Greenr,’ Hershey’s first-ever plant-based chocolate innovation, communicates eco-friendliness, hitting key touchpoints with health-conscious consumers. The play on words – ‘green’ and the letter ‘r’ for Hershey’s – lends depth and appeal to the brand name, making it an important touchpoint in its overarching strategy.

Brand Naming: Some Success Stories

Looking at the successful names created by Motto® brings the importance of etymology in brand strategy to light. ‘Kadabra,’ a leadership development and training firm for top CEOs, draws from the magical term ‘abracadabra,’ suggesting transformational change – the brand’s core promise. This is etymology in action, deepening the brand’s impact and aligning it with its strategy.

Another example is ‘Humankind,’ a platform that shares good news stories for USA Today and Gannett. The name emphasizes the universal aspect of humanity and kindness, providing a positive and uplifting message – the fundamental strategy of the brand.

‘Orison,’ the first energy power wall, taps into the power of etymology with its name derived from an archaic word for ‘prayer.’ This resonates with the brand’s mission – to offer an answer or solution (akin to prayer) to energy storage challenges.

Successful brand naming, backed by a strong understanding of etymology, is a powerful tool in crafting a successful brand strategy. It intertwines with the brand message, tone, personality, and brand touchpoints, creating a cohesive and impactful brand identity that resonates with consumers. This is why every brand, big or small, should consider the etymology of its name and leverage it to enhance its brand strategy.

“A great name may not feel right the first time you see it. Some of the best names don't always hit; the initial reaction may be lukewarm. You have to "see" the potential in the idea.”
Ashleigh Hansberger, Chief Strategy Officer, Motto®

Brand names Motto® has created:

Fintech B2B payments platform

Visionary “worker-first” job platform

Green Mustache
First-ever fruit and juice smoothies for kids

Cookie and cupcake bakeshop just outside Disney

Leading brand of audiology care in Canada

Podcast platform

Microbiome supplements from Reckitt

Innovative sand tables for HoMedics

Hershey’s first-ever plant-based chocolate innovation

Rare Breed
Book, YouTube show, and podcast

Arabian line of clothing

Certified visionary leadership course by Motto®

Puts on CountryUSA and RockUSA festivals

Leadership development and training for the world’s top CEOs

First-ever pet grass

Good news stories for USA Today and Gannett

Organic line of shampoo/conditioners

Autism center

FedEx of Australia

Opera innovation product

Solar energy power wall

Makeup kits for girl gamers

DTC watch brand by Armitron

Turkish linens

Organization app for packing

Credit repair for experts

Regenerative farming

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By Ashleigh Hansberger

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