August is the silly season. It is the time of year, when we disappear on holiday and the world goes quiet for a month. The vacuum is filled with stories that are simply bonkers.
One such story caught our eye last week and we squirmed because it is based on a market research survey. Apparently Mumsnet polled 1362 of its users (most of them mums of course) and asked them if they ever regretted their choice of name for their children. One in five claimed that they have misgivings. By the way, this is the same proportion as in a survey of 3000 parents three years ago so it is probably correct.
Such a survey would normally shoot over our heads but we can see a link here with an important marketing subject. The names of our companies and the brands we use to communicate with our customers are critical. These are our babies and just as parents worry that they have got their offsprings’ names right, we too should have similar concerns. Here are four things we observe about company and brand name mistakes:
- Names that are too trendy. Just as the name Chardonnay tells you that a little girl was born in the late 1990s, so too company and brand names can become very dated. A decade ago there was a fashion for brands based on fruit and colours, encouraged by the success of Apple. The Purple Banana Co doesn’t sound quite so good today.
- Names you can’t pronounce. It doesn’t help if the company you work for has its origins in some other country. How do you pronounce Aegon? It stands to reason that if you can’t say the name, it will struggle to get traction.
- Names that get taken over by events. ICIS is the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider and it most probably doesn’t relish the fact that it sounds very similar to the Jihadist militant group. You can change a name, of course, but that is drastic. Usually you just have to tough it out and hope the problem goes away.
- Names that are made up of random letters. True enough, it is becoming more and more difficult to register company and brand names as the best ones have been taken. This pressure has led to a rash of made up names that aren’t memorable, have no meaning and are unpronounceable. What on earth was the thinking behind Magoosh, Iggli, Kiip, and Zumper?
So, take care when naming your baby. As with our kids’ names, our brands must stand the test of time. Don’t join the regret club.