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IF Marketing nuggets - The importance of the name

14th August 2023

Over a career panning for gold in the marketplace you end up learning a thing or two about the marketing industry and its many facets.

Here I start almost at the beginning. The big bang in your world when you start a company or realise that you want to be in another universe. One of the obvious starting points is tackling the ego of calling something by your name versus some other name.

The passage of time has guaranteed that the world of naming is a much more crowded space than it ever was. Calling yourself FORD or MCDONALD even if it happens to be your name will attract a lot of expensive attention from trademark lawyers.

It is important you think about the legal platform and how you register the name and if the web domain name is available.

With the advent of digital platforms like Google, there has also been less rigid adherence to keeping the exact logo form in a name. Classically in the past, you might look at a brand like Bacardi and you would have an extremely weighty brand book with many different allowed versions of the logo. Passing off labels and logo forms in alcohol means that the Bacardi logo always has a disclaimer near it telling all that Bacardi and the Bat logo are trademarks of Bacardi. In stark contrast, the likes of GOOGLE have established a daily logo form that changes every day.

It is still a necessity to keep a tight rein on brand ownership because this is a very important and valuable part of the total value of any company.

The recent replacement of Twitter’s blue bird logo form with a black stylised X seems to fly in the face of much branding. As a hardened professional I think this X logo isn’t just plain awful it is also pretty indefensible as a letter of the alphabet in plain text. Maybe it is the ego of the owner flaunting any rules..flying literally into a storm of litigation which the owners think can be batted away with a bottomless pit of legal defence funds.

As a company and myself as an individual have been much more involved in the development of unique names and their underscores. In this instance, I prefer the TESLA name with its nod to one of the founding fathers of ‘electricity’.

In the past, we have been given names like ‘Gibbs& Dandy’ for example and had to develop the typeface and look of the company. Still, we put a useful underscore of “one-stop trade building centre” before it became the norm to have a light side and heavy side building materials on one large mega site. It is nice to see the Gibbs & Dandy logo going strong some 35 years after its origination. It hasn’t needed much tweaking because it has become classic in its region.

Even when you are given a name it is very important to consider the typefaces and colours. You could write a total book on the colours and the moods they represent. Whole industries have tended to trend into colourways…yellow, black, and red for ‘building materials’ brands or building-related products. Healthcare including toothpaste and toothbrushes with fresh blue or white. Nationalism in India has led to the proliferation of the country flag colours of orange and green with blue in many Indian corporate names. It can also lead to many looking quite similar mind well!

Religion has also played an important role in many countries regarding the name of companies and brands. I would always drag myself back to favouring an entirely new company name which has some credentials that allude to something.

Recently we were tasked with coming up with a new pharmaceutical company name. It needed to be registerable worldwide. We talked about the nature of the business and the need for it to appear ‘big’. It was important in a way it was quite sophisticated and allowed us to develop sub-brands…which we have done and are doing now. The name we came up with was ‘Primopus’. It combined the words ‘primo’ meaning first and ‘Opus’ from the world of music. This new company based in Switzerland is now gaining traction as an elite CDMO in its area of core competitive advantage.

The creative process of developing a new name and an ongoing new identity is a complex soup of subjectivity, inspiration and pragmatism. Everything rests on the name and the logo because it stands for the values of the business…whether they be good, bad or ugly…..or indeed the superlatively spectacular.

I started by comparing the name origination to the ‘big bang’. As in the cosmological concept, there is always going to be somebody asking if there is a god. In this instance, we can confirm that looking back through the mists of time you see all sorts of reasons for setting up or naming something. It isn’t always going to have the creativity and logic we employed in inventing Primopus. We were the ‘god’ in the case of Primopus….and it was against a design.

Our clients have many different reasons for naming their organisations. Our job is to listen to what they say and recommend a course of action we feel suits the organization best.
The nugget of gold here is that the trust of the people you are dealing with client-side has to be managed. Saying to an established brand owner that they need to change something that has been working requires a lot of faith and vision. The opportunity cost of not changing often creates a lag on a business and that comes back to the founding originator’s reticence to ‘change where necessary’. We have seen with the replacement of the Twitter bird that there is no lack of bravery to change inspired by perhaps one of the biggest corporate innovators of the age.

We just doubt the judgement of the alternative and I leave this thought with you. Does this logo remind you of some other logo that rose as an emblem in the middle of the 20th century? I leave that thought to your imagination.

David Jackson
First of the IF golden nuggets