Your Brand Name Needs More Than Usability

According to Bryce Hanscomb’s article, RVCA is a terrible brand name. However, their recent valuation of $48 million dollars and seemly endless popularity amongst a younger demographic of the action sports community speaks to the contrary.

In Bryce’s article he states that if your brand name is not usable according to natural language or voice recognition software, then you’ve got a bad name.

While usability can be an important factor in choosing a brand name, your brand needs an element that goes much further than just the usability. Your brand name needs a sticky factor.

The Sticky Factor

For RVCA their sticky factor was the pronunciation itself. Once consumers knew the proper pronunciation they were on the “inside”. It became the talking point for anyone wearing the shirt. It made their customers instantly become their brand ambassadors, as they were the only ones in the room with the answer.

I watched this happen time and time again while working my first job at a skate shop. It was the first Christmas season RVCA was introduced into our popular shop and parents were looking for something to give their kids that they would actually wear. As we educated the parents on the pronunciation, it made them feel cool to give their kids something trendy they could actually teach their kids about.

Make your customers part of your brand story

Now when their kids opened up their presents on Christmas morning and learned that it was pronounced a different way than it looked, they were instantly part of the brand story. They wore it proudly and informed everyone how it was supposed to be pronounced.

Finding A Sticky Name

Instead of the usual technique of picking the first name that comes to mind, why not test your brand name the same way you would test your product’s UI.

Pick 3 names that you would consider for your company. Come up with a quick explanation of what your company does (or will do) and what your name means.

Now go pitch each brand to 10 people.

Follow-up with each person in a week and ask them to recall your brand name and mission. The name that the most people can recall and connect your mission to is the obvious winner.

What Makes A Sticky Brand

A sticky name is more than just the pronunciation; it relates to the entire story of your brand.

It Should Have Personality.
When Bethany Frankel founded Skinnygirl Cocktails, the story revolved around a sassy, social and rebellious girl whose idea fit with the young modern female. The target market connected with the healthy and social story which led them to mainstream success.

It Should Connect Emotionally.
In 2006 Toms was founded with their ‘one for one’ story in which every shoe bought would be matched with a pair sent to a deserving recipient in a third world country. When I bought my first pair, I aided someone in need and became a part of their story.

It Should Have Surprise or Mystery.
Just as we saw with RVCA, it had an element of both surprise and mystery as to how the name was pronounced.

It Leaves Room to Build On.
Nestlé’s origins date back to 1866 when Henri Nestle developed a milk-based baby food. His soon to be partner, Daniel Peter, developed the first milk chocolate manufacturing process. After a key merger decades later, Nestle is still going very strong as one of the leading brands in 2013.

Finding a sticky brand is not an easy task. However, approaching a brand name the same way you approach product development will bring you closer to a more memorable name. After you have chosen your name, make sure to build your brand story around key factors that will help your customers resonate with your product.



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