What’s in a name?

A friend of mine recently bought a Peloton.

It’s an exercise bike.

No, actually he joined Peloton.

It’s an exercise club, the bike is just the most distinctive physical asset.

It replicates in digital form the motivation of a real club.

Highly engaging instructors,

visually stunning virtual rides,

leaderboards to compare your performance with your class,

or your age group, globally.

The business was going gangbusters before the pandemic.

Now it’s a $37 billion Unicorn.

Our favourite part? The brand name.

It’s a one word story.

It builds a rich brand fantasy through associations.

Associations are hyperlinks for your brain to ‘get it’.

And remember it.

“I’m with Peloton” is like telling people (mainly yourself):

“I’m fit, part of a pack, chasing the leader, looking good in Lycra..”

A great name gives your brand a head start in the race.



The name of the game

The name of the game in marketing is to have people buy your brand.

Why would they do that?

Because they recognise it.

Let’s break that word down: they re-cognise it.

Bring it back to mind.

That sounds easy, but for a busy brain it’s hard work.

How could your brand name help?

By being a story.




A name that’s also a story writes its own characters.

Quaker Oats was the first true brand mark in 1877.

Utterly distinctive for a cereal brand.

But with a well-known story inside: iron-clad trustworthiness.

That’s two for the price of one.


innocent created an entirely new brand behaviour because of its name.

ingredients: 17 strawberries, 2 apples, half a banana, one sofa*

Printed on the base of a tetrabrik: ‘are you looking at my bottom?’

Brew Dog dressed like a punk and told its drinkers:

“We don’t care if you don’t like it”.

Bonne Maman didn’t put a Grandmother on the pack.

But it created a unique jar that she might have used.

Authentically distinctive voices and assets,

almost for free.

*they were just kidding  



Words with benefits

Not all brand names contain stories or characters,

Andrex is not soft, nor a puppy.

Dulux is not a dog, nor homeliness.

comparethemarket.com is not a meerkat family.

Well it is now.

Those associations need advertising to build them.

where some more words can be your biggest asset:

All hail the slogan!

Originally the battle cry of a Scottish Highlander,

Now ‘a short easily remembered phrase, used to advertise an idea’.

What are your Distinctive top 3?

“Just Do It”. That’s on everyone’s list.

“Vorsprung durch technik”. Unexpectedly brilliant.

“Dat zouden meer mensen moeten doen”. Genius call to action.



Not brands but on-brand

When I go to a restaurant I’ll order anything that’s described as ‘caramelised’.

The words you use around your brand name have magic powers too.

Cherry Garcia. Chunky Monkey. Half Baked.

Flavours more powerful than any sub-brand.

Elephant’s Breath, Dead Salmon, Dimpse and Mizzle.

Paint colours as famous as their maker.

In the wild west world of plant-based everything,

Elmhurst offers us ‘milked almonds’, ’milked oats’, ‘milked cashews’…

You get the picture.



Naming Names

There is both art and science in making up names,

A spectrum from descriptive (does what it says on the tin):

Shredded Wheat, Faith in Nature, Wonderbra;

to abstract ‘empty vessels’(create your own meaning):

Xerox, Kodak, Apple (the computer, not the fruit).

Most created names are ‘suggestive names’.

Not quite descriptive, but brain-friendly:

Oatly, Spotify, Netflix, Nutrasweet, Hamster…

Oh wait that’s an animal.

The prefix/suffix game can be played by algorithms:

Namester, Namely, Namedrop, Namehawk, Namestream…

But only humans can pick the winner.

100 Monkeys (great name for a naming agency) says:

‘Names are all about the stories they start to tell.’

Time to jump on the Peloton.



Ways with words

“It’s a rap race, with a fast pace

Concrete words, abstract words

Crazy words and lying words

Hazy words and dying words

Words of faith, tell me straight

Rare words and swear words

Good words and bad words

What are words worth?

What are words worth? Words.”

(from Wordy Rappinghood, Tom Tom Club)


We hope you enjoyed this wordy edition of Unpredictable.

If you did, checkout the brand and slogan we created here.