Standing Out: What’s Behind A Brand Name?

“The sweetest word in the brand universe is your brand’s name.”
Bill Schley & Carl Nichols, Jr from the book “Why Johnny Can’t Brand.”

What’s in a name? A lot. For Freespee, we wanted to reflect the core aspect of what we believe in – seamless and “free” communication/speech between brand and consumer.
Our co-founder and chief strategy officer Carl Holmquist elaborated further, “the name is a tuned version of FREEdom of SPEEch. The idea from day one was to empower the consumer to speak to brands in the way they choose. Rather than having brands push you into different forms etc. If the consumer wants to talk to you, let them talk, if they want to chat, let them chat, if they want to email, let them send an email, etc.”
A brand’s name is its greatest differentiator and is the first indicator of what a company produces. For example, Microsoft – probably one of the most successful B2B companies on earth comes from the words MICROprocessor and SOFTware. Of course, the quality of their service has come to define the company, but the name is what we remember most.
On the flipside, becoming memorable can take a turn. When the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council asked the public to name their polar research vessel, no one expected “Boaty McBoatface” to be the winning (and viral) choice.
Though such a name would have stood out in the tumbling Antarctic seas, the selection was still subversive. Especially when considering the boat’s purpose as a logistic and research support vessel for the British Antarctic Survey. Perhaps Boaty McBoatface would have distracted from the critical work?
Another reason why a brand’s moniker should be creatively aligned with their DNA, who they are and what they do must be embedded in the fabric of their signature. Microsoft is clearly technology based; the Boring Company is a drilling collective. It doesn’t always have to be exact but at the very least – connected. Sports label Nike may not sound related to its product but its named after the Greek goddess of victory, a common goal of any athlete.

In B2B branding its best to be on the nose, there is a difference between B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) characterisation, and it’s down to the buyer, whether it be a business or consumer. The relationship between buyer and brand in B2B is purely rational, and the targeting has to be specific.
Xabier Ormazabal, former head of UK marketing at B2B company told Marketing Week: “The complexity of each buyer is different. It’s about connecting to key buyer personas and communicating effectively the added value and what you are selling to the stakeholders who you’re trying to influence.”
A brand name sits on many influences; core values, DNA and target audience being a few major ones, let’s explore.

Core Values

What are core values exactly? They are a consistent set of rules that every company should abide by to maintain consistency and therefore strength.
A good brand name has a prolific influence, and when it reflects core values accurately, it’s practically magical. Speaking of, Jeff Bezos first named his company Cadabra, a play on “Abracadabra” but when it sounded too close to “cadaver” he quickly opted for his second choice, Amazon.
The word Amazon evokes images of a massive, exotic landscape. The online marketplace its allied with does the same. Somehow, this e-commerce juggernaut has maintained and evolved its initial goal of becoming the “earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online,” according to Amazon’s mission statement. 


Much like the nucleotides structuring our bodies, company DNA is its organisational design, including processes like decisions, commitments, networks and mind-sets. Core values and DNA aren’t the same things, values are found in the DNA. A company’s DNA can and does evolve, sometimes the name is included in the shift, especially when the product outgrows the brand. Wachovia bank became Wells Fargo; BackRub became Google (thank goodness), change is good once the core values are in place.

Target Audience

Target audiences in B2B are not like those found in the consumer-centric markets, B2B audiences have some pain points to resolve and oft-times not a lot of time to do it. A good name can affect whether your company is at the front of their minds. Freespee’s clients are looking for a smoother line of communication and understanding between brand and consumer; our name reflects such a goal. Free speech, freedom of communication and ease of understanding. It’s all there.
To recap, a useful brand name is the cherry on a company cake and can make or break perceptions, its founded on core values and can evolve to fit the ever-changing market. Unlike human names, a company doesn’t always grow into their moniker, particularly in the B2B space, it has to reflect the aim and goals a brand holds dear from the outset.
Via: Marketing Week, AD WeekMarketing MO, The Guardian, Rewind and Capture.