5 BRANDS THAT HAD TO CHANGE THEIR NAME
Brand naming is a more complicated process than it first sounds. It's not just about picking a name that you like or one that sounds nice. There are many groups of people that must be considered before going ahead with a brand name, most important of all being your target market.
It's much less hassle to simply get a brand name right the first time and stick to it rather than being forced to change an already established brand name. Here are some examples of brands who made naming mistakes which forced them to change. Don't be too harsh, these brands walked so you could run, they made these mistakes first so you didn't have to.
There are 7 criteria all businesses choosing a name should adhere to:
Easy spelling and pronunciation
For a deeper dive into these criteria check out our blog "What's a good brand name"
1 ) WWF > WWE: PROTECTIBILITY
In the '90s and early 2000s, Vince Mcmahon's World Wrestling Federation was at its peak of popularity, regularly bringing in millions of viewers each week. Unfortunately for the company, it was during this time period that the World Wide Fund For Nature who also held the "WWF' trademark and used this acronym in its branding began to pursue legal action against the wrestling firm to cease infringing on their trademark.
A legal back and forth took place over the best part of the 90s resulting in the wrestling federation to rebrand to the WWE, not being allowed create merchandise with their old branding and even having to blur our their old WWF logo when showing clips from the past.
Needless to say, this is a process the company would rather have not gone through. This could have all been avoided if they had ensured their name was legally protectable from the very begging.
2) RELENTLESS > AMAZON: APPROPRIATENESS
Amazon has recently been named the worlds most valuable brand and it's owner, Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. Amazon is a great name, it's likeable, brief, easy to spell and its connotations of rainforests was incredibly appropriate for its book retailing roots.
However, their name wasn't always worth of most valuable brand in the world. One of the original names for Jeff's company was "relentless". This was intended to represent their relentless approach to customer satisfaction. The fundamental sin here was appropriateness as the company sounded more like an energy drink brand or an MMA organisation. Luckily this name change took place fairly early on in amazon's life so no major accommodations ad to be made for the new name.
3) LUCKY GOLDSTAR AND CO > LG: BREVITY, SPELLING AND LIKEABILITY
Brevity is extremely important when it comes to brand names. As we discussed when we looked at why the Starbucks name works so well if your name is too long to say in normal conversation then the public will simply give you a new name that they can pronounce more easily.
Brand names should be easy to spell and pronounce. It can often be the case that a name rolls of the tongue nicely but when it comes to translating it into pen and paper you are stumped. Keeping it simple is the best way to ensure people of all walks of life will be able to easily spell and pronounce your name.
Likeability may be one of the most underrated aspects of brand naming. It is incredibly important for a name to be fun to say and roll off the tongue.
LG realised this when they made the decision to change their official name from Lucky and Goldstar Co. The tech giant stated they made this decision as it rolls off the tongue better and ties in with their slogan "Lifes Good".
4) THOMSON > TUI: DISTINCTIVNESS
There is a multitude of reasons brand names should be distinct. It must have an impact and it mustn't get drowned in a sea of competitors.
The most recent rebranding on this list, holiday provider Thomson decided to change its name to TUI in 2017. This was due to a number of reasons including new ownership. One of the benefits Tui are experiencing is an increase in distinctiveness as their name is no longer similar to their competitor Thomas cook. however it's not only Thomas Cook they are separating their brand from, but it's also the rest of the travel industry as this new name the distinction of having a more snappy and informal ring to it than most other holiday providers. Tui is also distinct as it is not a real word and therefore should not be confused with any other product or service in existence.
5) DUNKIN DONUTS > DUNKIN': EXTENDABILITY
It is important for a name to have legs, it should be able to follow a company as it grows into new ventures. Dunkin' found themselves at the end of the road with their original name as their product line continued to expand and doughnuts encompassed less and less of their sales and the expanded their coffee and savoury food lines. Luckily they didn't have to undergo a major rebranding as they simply removed "donuts" from their name but it's an important lesson for any niche one product business, one day it may be time to expand and you shouldn't pick a name that holds you back.
Brand naming is a tricky subject. It's important the name you pick aligns with our 7 brand naming criteria:
Easy spelling and pronunciation
If your name fails to meet these criteria it is inevitable that down the line that your name will need to change and these 6 companies are living proof.
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About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here