The top five brand names Advertising and branding must be among the few professions where a catchy word or phrase can rake in big bucks. Is a good brand name a shot in the dark, or is there an infallible formula that can come up with just the right name?
One vocabulary piece in the 1950s quoted an unnamed large corporation of the time as having laid down some ground rules: stick to short, one-word names, preferably not exceeding five letters; while it should be distinctive and easily remembered, it must be original; it should suggest power and immensity; and so on. The list also precludes anything negative in the product’s name but that seems to work in reverse in the 21st century, where “it’s bad!” means “it’s good”.
So what are the best product names ever? Opinions are subjective, but if you look at the blog by John Bell, former CEO of Kraft and a Fortune Magazine contributor, the common threads connecting his choices are product association, imagery, character and differentiation conveyed by the name.
In fifth place comes Dove, which at first sight is a simple and unimaginative brand name and yet, emotionally, it is hard to beat. A dove symbolises peacefulness, gentleness, purity and softness – which is what women want when it comes to their hair and skin.
In fourth place is Häagen-Dazs. These two words look Scandinavian but they mean nothing, being made up by its inventor Mattus. The name is so strong on imagery, character and differentiation that description is unnecessary.
The third place winner is Sony’s Walkman, an audio player that transformed music-listening habits by offering the convenience of portable music. Walkman did not describe the product; it told you what you could do with it.
The second place winner has nothing to do with a Bruce Willis movie franchise; it’s a battery called DieHard that was guaranteed to last “forever”, that is, as long as the original owner still owned the car in which it was originally installed.
But the winner was a name that the public gave the product rather than the manufacturer: the (Volkswagen) Beetle. Enough said!