The Brand Mason’s Peer Review: 7 Common Cents Naming Insights

Branding, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by The Brand Mason (Steven Mason), a marketing, communications and naming artisan. Follow on twitter: @thebrandmason
Over the past 22 years, Steven has been a marketing executive at—and consultant to—public and private Internet security/networking, enterprise software, B2B platform, e-Business firms, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms, as well as a teacher of subjects as diverse as compiler (computer language translator) design and English grammar, mechanics and usage.
Here, he revisits the
7 Common Cents Insights for Brand Naming by adding clarity, context, and an alternative viewpoint. Contact The Brand mason at steven [at]

In his previous post, Mikal offered 7 Common Cents Insights for Naming Your Product/Company:

  1. The product is what matters
  2. There is no best way
  3. A name is just one component of a brand
  4. Do a competitive analysis
  5. Don’t commit any fatal errors
  6. Consider tying to something already understood
  7. A great name will help you, everything else is incremental

This post will function as an open peer review of the concepts presented.

1. The product is what matters

I would express this idea a bit differently. First, a great name can launch a bad product, but the product is unlikely to engender loyalty. If it depends on repeat buys, it will fail. If it’s a one-time, one-trick-pony, on the other hand, this may work. (I’m not endorsing this, because I think the modus operandi is a fundamentally dishonest one: I am simply making an observation.) Second, I advise looking carefully at the authenticity of the attributes/qualities suggested by the name. There must be a direct connection between what the name suggests/evokes and the ability of the product/company to deliver on same. Listerine used this very effectively: the name intentionally sounds medicinal; everyone “knows” medicines taste bad; therefore, they used a negative attribute which “proved” bactericidal effectiveness. My view is that the lack of a clear, strong nexus between a name (and tagline) and the benefits of the product/company is one of the biggest problems in naming.

Where I would disagree with you is that I view a name as an overarching concept that integrates all salient aspects/attributes of the brand, rather than as a component of the brand. The name is the “word that stands in” for the brand—i.e., an invented concept that must be reified to be made useful. Metonymy in action.

(continue to read The Brand Masons take on the six other naming insights)