What’s in a name?
Great question. Shakespeare’s Juliet contemplated this subject, trying to decide if Romeo’s surname really posed a problem when it came to love. Unfortunately, it did turn out to be a bit of an issue for the rest of the Montagues and Capulets. Why? Because there’s a lot to a name.
Names are more than labels—they are identities. A name can tell the world who you are, where you’re from, and even what you stand for.
The name of the newest royal baby, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, was the cause of endless speculation in the UK and around the globe. Nobody understands the importance of a name better than marketers. Brand names make or break businesses, and marketers know they need to capture consumer hearts with a solid, viable name.
A Royal Name and a Royal Brand
As you’ve probably heard, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Prince William, welcomed their baby into the royal family (and the world) on May 2nd. Barely a day old and Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana had already helped many betting Londoners make some significant cash—not a bad start for a tiny 8 lb. bundle of joy!
Bookies across Britain paid £1 million after Kate and William announced Charlotte’s full name, as thousands of people had placed bets on all aspects of the birth—from weight, to birthdate, to name. What name the royal couple would choose for their first daughter generated mass buzz and even spurred some unconventional methods of predicting the name, including a Corgi dog race outside Buckingham Palace. The amount of involvement among UK citizens reflects the importance and excitement that rested on the baby’s name, in part because speculating on the finalized name is a fun game, but more importantly, royal names represent something significant: the royal brand.
Baby Name Frenzy: Corgi Racing outside Buckingham Palace
Ultimately, the Duke and Duchess decided to name their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, which honors both sides of the family and shows appreciation for the history of the kingdom she will represent. The name carries significant weight in each part. Charlotte, the female diminutive for Charles, is a name in honor of her grandfather, Charles The Prince of Wales. It is also her Aunt Pippa’s middle name and a historical name in English history. Her first middle name, Elizabeth, honors her great-grandmother, The Queen, and is also a historical name. Her second middle name, Diana, honors her late grandmother, The Princess of Wales, who was a cultural legend and was beloved by the people of England. The compilation of names brings history, sentiment, and legacy to Princess Charlotte and to the royal brand. It’s a thoughtful name that is structured to create connection to her family, to her culture, and to the people.
Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge with her parents The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Image courtesy of http://www.royal.gov.uk/
The Business of Naming a Brand
Marketers may look at the decision to give Princess Charlotte three significant, lasting, and recognizable names with envy. It’s difficult to choose a name with such power, whether you’re naming a princess or a company.
Brand marketing requires a strategic approach to choosing the name and building an identity around it. The key is to pick something consumers recognize, can easily pronounce, and may already have a positive association with. Most importantly, you should select a name that will not limit future growth for your business.
One thing the royal family did well is blend the old and new worlds to create Charlotte’s full name. Marketers who are contemplating a brand name should take the royals’ cue and consider: 1) where they’ve been, 2) where they are, and 3) where they’re going.
3 Tips for Brainstorming a Brand Name
There is no perfect science to picking a name, and it goes without saying that everyone has a unique opinion about how to do it. But here are a few tips that can help shape your brand naming brainstorm:
1. Latin Roots: Choosing a name with Latin roots can give a classic, sturdy foundation to a business. Especially in romance language cultures, Latin roots evoke intelligence, antiquity, and strength.
2. Descriptive of Services: Entrepreneur Magazine noted names that immediately explain what the business does for consumers are good choices, though they have the potential to be very generic. It’s important that your description of services isn’t limiting. For example if your company initially only provides landing page optimization, but its offerings expand to include social media management and A/B testing over time, it’s important that the name describes more than the original service or product. Without considering the future of your business, your name will not be set up to support future success.
3. Abstractions: Names that are abstract have little to do with the business’ products and services. This can be a good thing as long as the name is catchy, engaging, and resonates with consumers. Think about Google—it’s an abstract name that didn’t mean much when the business started but now has come to represent many things, primarily the ability to rapidly search a topic (People even use ‘google’ as a verb to mean ‘search’ in general!). Because it’s memorable and isn’t specific to a particular capability, the name ‘Google’ allowed the business to grow in whichever direction suited it. However, in most cases, an abstract name has the challenge of building recognition since it’s not a common word with easy associations—choosing an abstract name can be risky, but can also pay off big.
Companies must muse—agonize, even—over which name to brand themselves with. Marketers have to consider their audience, its needs, and the values it holds so dear. Unlike a baby name, once you decide on a brand name or a couple of brand names, it’s vital that you test it with those in your target market. This will tease out any issues or associations that you may not have thought of which could potentially harm your brand. It also may help you discover new ways to think about your brand and its name. It’s important work and it’s how brands can launch successful, lengthy reigns. So again, let me ask—what’s in a name? Everything. Just ask The Duke and Duchess.
Do you have helpful tips for naming a brand? Please share in the comments below!