Why Most New Brand Names Are Doomed From The Start

breyers double churn ice cream(A NameStormers’ Viewpoint – August, 2010)

Popular commercial brands generate a “positive emotional reaction from the human brain,” according to a study by the Radiological Society of North America. Does that mean consumers are inclined to just purchase those brands that we have all heard of before, for better or for worse?

This study links positive emotions to the purchase of well-known brand names while linking negative emotions to those brands that are lesser-known. Apparently, well-known brands are easier to process and activate a part of the brain associated with rewards. Conversely, lesser-known brands demand more from parts of the brain associated with memory and elicit stronger negative emotions. Maybe this means our brains view less clear, more convoluted names and messages negatively?

According to the study, the type of response depended entirely on how strong (or familiar) the brand was, regardless of what product or service was being tested.

We have seen this same trend in our own name testing research but don’t believe it is because lesser-known brands elicit stronger negative emotions. Rather, we think it is because lesser-known brands require us to “think harder.” That is, some of the most pedestrian, generic brand names that have been out in the marketplace for a while tend to test better than some of the most brilliant new names. We believe this is because of the natural associations any name acquires with exposure over time. Once consumers associate a logo, an advertisement, a package graphic, a story, etc. with a name, even a pretty crummy name, it tends grow on them and they tend to like it more. On the other hand, new names are naked. They have very little wrapped around them, very few associations, so the brain has to work harder to establish those connections.

Are more clever but obscure, new names destined for the scrap heap before they get a chance?  We believe many are because clever isn’t what is what is important. Rather, instant emotional engagement is the key. If a new name connects emotionally quickly, it often has high memorability scores. High memorability is what drives awareness and familiarity which can ultimately drive purchase decisions.

Bottom line: when developing new names, focus on those that connect with the right and not the left side of the brain.  Be less concerned with how descriptive or literal a new name is (e.g. an InfoSeek or Very Creamy style of name that connects with the left side of the brain) and more concerned with the emotional reaction it elicits on the right side of the brain (e.g. a Google or Double Churn style of name that might evoke a chuckle, a positive feeling, a desire for more, etc.). This is what we’ve been focused on since 1985 and what our research shows serves many of our clients quite well.

For more information about how we develop engaging, memorable names, go to www.namestormers.com or give us a call at 512-267-1814.

For more information on the Radiological Society of North America study cited above, go to: Shoppers’ Brains Under Brand-Name Control

2 Comment(s)

  1. Thank you for another great post. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

    BlackJack ciekawostki | Sep 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. So glad you like our content! Another blog that has excellent brand name information is brand channel – if you’re looking for additional sources, we’d definitely recommend them. Good luck!

    admin | Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

Post a Comment

  • HealthYes!

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Snapio

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Raving Fans

  • Thanks so much for all your expert advice and professional project management throughout this endeavor. This has been one of the most satisfying engagements with a vendor that I have experienced over the years, which speaks to the high quality and thoughtful output of your efforts. I especially appreciated your flexibility and patience as the project took on new challenges which impacted the scope of work. You can be certain that as our business grows, NameStormers will be top-of-mind for future work.
    Will Jarred - Executive Director of Sales & Marketing - ETS - Educational Testing Service
  • ________________

  • We have rarely encountered the level of service and professionalism we received with you. You made us feel that we were important, and you did everything you said you would do when you said you would do it. And frankly, after such a positive experience with you, I can't help but notice how the service we receive from others pales in comparison. We felt like you put your heart into this project, and we will forever appreciate the attention you gave us. Whenever we encounter anyone in the future who needs your services, you will be the first and only name we recommend. Thank you. We have sincerely enjoyed working with you.
    Tim Dietrich - CEO, formerly Amicus Mutual Insurance Company, now Stonetrust Commercial Insurance Company
  • ________________

  • I can't say enough about how well you handled what would have been a very difficult if not impossible branding exercise for us to do in-house. The NameStormers brought an excellent level of creativity, objectivity and a fresh look at what we live with everyday, and that is just what we needed. At the beginning of this project, I had my doubts about our ability to come up with a brand name in just 3 weeks and clearly without your help, we wouldn't have been able to do it. You really made my job easy.
    Kate Strong - Manager, Marketing Communications - Lightbridge
  • ________________

  • I received your presentation booklet for our new car concept---I looked through it and want to compliment you on an outstanding job. The names you have developed will be terrific starting points for us as we move our project forward. We will not hesitate to use your firm again.
    Mike Suchstand - Vice President, Strategic Development - THORN Americas, Inc.
  • ________________

  • I have hired Mike to do naming projects for several of our clients. Naming can be a difficult area for many companies and Mike does a great job walking people through the process and making them feel comfortable. One of his strengths is his ability to ask the right questions to really understand the problem and the objectives at hand. This allows NameStormers to always come up with a wide variety of options that expands the thinking of the client. I have yet to have a client be disappointed with the process or the results. If you are considering going through a naming exercise, I would highly recommend Mike and The NameStormers.
    Tom Dorow, Design North.
  • ________________

  • Our success with our name change and branding has been phenomenal. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. I am ecstatic over it. Our experience in working with NameStormers has been so good let's just call them again and let them handle this next project for us.
    Bill Macey - CEO of Valtera, formerly Personnel Research Associates
  • ________________

  • The naming industry landscape is littered with agencies that make the process seem onerous and intimidating. They tout their unique proprietary processes, advanced research and ideation tools, etc. And then they tell you it's going to take months and months. Ugh. With Mike and NameStormers, you get a team focused on results. Their approach is practical, thorough and creative. And they can be flexible and lightning fast. If you want results without the headaches, then I highly recommend NameStormers.
    David Cameron, Business Public Affairs, Dow Chemical