Naming brands: The name game

Nikolas Contis
Siegel+Gale

There are three main options when picking a brand name – descriptive, suggestive or fanciful – but it should always set the right expectations for the consumer, says Nikolas Contis of Siegel+Gale

Is it true, as Shakespeare's Juliet suggests, that names of things don't matter and what matters most is what things are? After all, "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" would it not? Does this hold true for brand names and what they represent?

All too often, brand names do not authentically reflect the truth of the experience the brand delivers. And no name can compensate for what a brand is incapable of delivering. Neither Montague nor Capulet, nor Jones, nor Smith, defines the essence of a person. You don't actually expect someone named Smith to work with a hammer and anvil do you? But unlike surnames, a brand name is specifically designed to set clear expectations – first and foremost, expectations about a brand experience. Names, in this case, do matter.