What’s Going On? The Strongest Weakling in the Marketing Mix…

Martin Oxley
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I recently had a client tell me they only had around 2,000 GBP for a naming study. In my mind I wondered, “Why such a pittance towards such an enormously important strategic decision?” So I said, “You’ve changed your advertising 3 times in the past 5 years, the brand team has changed twice, the packaging once, yet how many times will you change your product name? The answer was probably never?” A name change or introduction is not something that should be taken lightly; it is, after all, going to stick around for (hopefully) a very long time.

We’ve worked with brands who have underestimated the equity of their name. It’s more than a label. It says so much about your product – how it sounds, what it tastes like, the experience it promises. And yet so many companies do not spend adequately on naming research. This is despite the fact that in a study of brand managers 60% say the brand name (on its own, without advertising support) can influence product sales. Further, choice of appropriate brand name is considered significantly more important than attractiveness of packaging and more important than incentive for trial. So what’s going on?

Companies considering a name change or the introduction of a new name would do well to explore the unique imagery and emotions that consumers associate with the name. We do not believe in just using direct questions – whether they will buy a product with that name, but ALSO the imagery and positioning the name conveys – how it makes them feel about the product. Often clients, who were convinced that a name change was in order, instead “pivot” and walk away with a clearer roadmap of how to better leverage the existing name.

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