What’s in a Business Name?


branding is important

Choosing the right name can make or break a business operation. A clever brand name can help make it memorable, recognizable and even define the business culture. Care should also be given to make the name memorable or iconic in some way as this will also enhance your marketing campaigns for the business. Below I am going to investigate 3 different examples of successful business names. Their commercial successes are each due to a variety of different attributes that I will now discuss in further detail.

MoonpigBrand One – Moonpig

Moonpig is an online card company. They provide custom birthday cards, anniversary cards and any other kind of card in between. They make this list because they’ve managed to grow their niche brand very well despite the fact that their name is completely obscure and totally irrelevant to their business product. What the heck is a moonpig anyway and why would it be trying to sell me a card? This brand is an example of how a unique and bizarre sounding name can work to your businesses’ advantage simply due to the fact that it is memorable. It can also work against a “bricks and mortar”  business because as people drive by  your store they have no clue what you do. And in a busy world they may not be curious enough to stop and ask. So then you have to do a lot of advertising just so they know what you do. In that case your sign should at least say “Moonpig Cards”.  But on the Internet that may not be as much of an issue.

wongaBrand Two – Wonga

Wonga makes it onto the list because they’re a great example of the evolution of a name from ‘slang term’ to ‘legitimate brand name’. To my knowledge these guys are quite unique in their success with this strategy. Usually it works the other way around, Kleenex® and Thermos ® are perfect examples of brand names that became synonymous with the product they represent, simply because they were the first and largest producer.

It turned out to be a great move as for many people in the U.K. now the term ‘pay day loan’ is synonymous with the Wonga brand. While this is of course due in part to their aggressive advertising campaign one cannot under estimate the beneficial impact of their brand name being derived from a well known terminology for ‘money’. See: What’s a Wonga?

CokeBrand three – Coca-Cola

They’re one of most easily recognised brands on the entire globe, and yet the brand name’s origin is really quite simplistic, it was derived from one of the original ingredients that was used in creating the soft drink, that’s right – cocaine! By the time cocaine was filtered out of the recipe the brand name had already become so strongly established that it would have been foolish to consider changing it at such a late stage. It’s a testimony to the contemporary strength of the brand that they have all but left behind this piece of their origin history! Interestingly, Coke® has become synonymous with “soft-drink” in some places in the U.S. (particularly the South) where even though they might ask you if you want a Coke® you may actually be offered something entirely different.

Branding Mistakes

Many people make the mistake of branding their business with their own name such as Joe’s Barber Shop. That works fine for a small business but makes expansion difficult. Imagine walking  into Joe’s and asking, “Where’s Joe?” and being told, “Oh Joe doesn’t work here, he’s at the main office.”  So if you are even considering the possibility that your business might grow beyond a one man show, you should choose a name with more mass appeal such as “Hair Gallery” or “Super Cuts” or something.

Choosing your brand requires thought, you need to decide the image you want to portray. It is more than just choosing a random phrase or serries of letters. When car manufacturers create a new model they invest much time and thought into ensuring that it creates the right image. They know that millions of dollars in salses rides on a name. One interesting example of a misstep by GM was the Chevy Nova. In the U.S. the Nova was a popular model from its introduction in 1962 through 1979. But when GM tried to market it in Latin America it was a total flop. Why? Image.

In English “Nova” implies a shooting star, fast, cosmic, etc. In Spanish, Nova is pronounced “Nowa” which relates to a slang term “No Wa” or no oomph or no go. Who want a car with no go?  So be careful when choosing your brand, even small image issues that you never thought of, can have a big impact on sales.

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