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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What’s in a brand name?

Does it matter to you whether the computer you are using right now is HP or Dell? What difference does it make whether the tablet bears the image of an ‘Apple’ or has ’Samsung’ inscribed on it?
Really, names are just names. They mean nothing until they are associated with something – a personality or a significantly distinct experience.
The only reason “Apple” means more than a crispy round fruit [green or wine] to you, is that you have used, seen, or heard of smartphones, tablets or laptops that go by that name, or maybe you heard of Steve Jobs [even if it was through the news during his funeral].
Nevertheless, the sound of a name, its length and the ease with which it is pronounced, also matter.
If a brand name is simple – one, two, or three syllables – it is easier to pronounced and memorised, and more importantly, it is easier to use it during formal discussions, gossips, social media chats, and in write ups [from academic to satirical].
Perhaps the highest achievement of a brand name occurs when it becomes recurring phrase in the informal chats of the people for whom the product or service was designed. This is when the brand name become a part of the language, and probably qualifies for a mention in the dictionary.
Another height occurs when a brand name colloquially becomes a generic term for a product or service. Typical example Band Aid, used to describe any brand of adhesive bandage and Maggi, which is used to describe any brand of seasoning cubes, especially in Nigeria.
While different brand names have different effects – from the acronyms like IBM or MTN, the descriptions like Tasty Fried Chicken or Sahara Reporters, to those coined out of the blues – the basic rule is: “Keep it simple and meaningful.”
‘Meaningful’ here is not in the sense of the dictionary meaning of words, but in the ability of the brand name to create relevant images in the people’s minds, even if it is grammatical incorrect.