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Why is a good name important?

There is a business book called The Halo Effect that explains a psychological phenomenon impacting our perception of organizations. In short, a company’s performance biases our opinion. If a company fails, we might say they expanded too quickly. If they succeed, they expanded rapidly to take advantage of opportunities. Same actions, different results, radically different perceptions.

This is true of naming. I think BlackBerry is a better brand name than Apple. I might be the only person who thinks that. Because Apple has been so much more successful, it is the beneficiary of the halo effect. Most consumers believe the strongest brand names belong to the most successful companies. Unfortunately, no matter how many times namers trot out Shakespeare’s famous line about a rose, we can’t pinpoint the impact of a name on a company’s success. However, we can point out (at least) five ways a strong name gives you a distinct advantage.

A good name buys you time.

We are burdened with too many choices. Picture the overwhelm that is the freezer section in your grocery store. Consumer goods are an easy example, but it is also true of the services we buy. The best thing a name can do in this crowded environment is to make the consumer pause. Those few seconds allow the rest of your brand — visual identity, brand language, positioning — to step up. Together, those brand elements can help you close the sale. In that freezer section, I paused to consider the name Evol and ended up with a dozen burritos in my cart.

A good name is easier to remember.

There is a mountain of research indicating that some words or phrases are easier to recall than others. Names with an initial hard consonant, phrases that rhyme, names with unusual spelling. Name recall is essential if your business relies on repeat purchases or word-of-mouth marketing. The only way to overcome poor memorability is advertising. And it’s expensive to advertise your way to memorability. No linguistic tricks work as well as repetition.

A good name anchors the brand story.

We tend to buy the same things over and over — partly because of decision fatigue (see above). Habit plays its part, but so does brand allegiance. We are loyal to brands because we see ourselves as part of the story. It could be Nike and greatness. It could be Patagonia and the great outdoors. Whatever the story, a good name acts as a shorthand for the complete, rich narrative.

A good name is a cultural signal.

This is the flip side of the brand story point. The story illustrates the values. And a company’s values are the essence of its culture. A good name acts as a beacon to potential employees. Many companies are as concerned about attracting quality employees as they are converting new business. Does your name reiterate the values you work hard to instill?

A good name gives you confidence.

Whether we are selling our value to a potential customer or employee, there is nothing as attractive as confidence. It is intangible but undoubtedly real. Similar to a fresh haircut or new clothes, the confidence boost from a good name is worth much more than its cost.

A strong name gives you an advantage in your marketplace. We take that seriously and use the same process each time to make sure we create something attention-getting and memorable that reflects your brand story and reveals your culture.

Brad Flowers
Brad Flowers
Founding Partner

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