STARBUCKS - WHAT'S A GOOD BRAND NAME?
A business is comprised of many different parts, all working in tandem to ensure the smooth operation and growth of the company. It is important at the early stages of building a business that owners take every possible opportunity to get an advantage over their competitors and establish their place in the market. One of the most important choices at this early stage is picking the right name.
A brand name is all about communicating the ethos of the brand through a kind of cultural shorthand; a word or two that has instant connotations of a particular company, product or service, an image, a way of life.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BRAND NAME?
We've broken it down into 6 key points. We'll put these points to the test by comparing Starbucks to a rival and completely fictional brand: The Coffee Company That Also Sells Tea. We'll use this brand name for the purpose of this exercise which is not based on an existing company.
Your brand name must have an impact and be something that won’t be submerged by common text and speech. It should also be unique, and stand out from its competitors. Don't get lost in the shuffle!
Here, Starbucks takes the first point. Starbucks was not this commonly used word prior to the brand that has its obvious advantages over The Coffee Company That Also Sells Tea. The latter may get confused with common parlance or any other similarly named coffee shop.
The name should be short, to the point and easily recalled. Long multi-word names will be quickly shortened to non-communicating initials or reduced to a nickname. We didn't ask for your life story.
The Coffee Company That Also Sells Tea will be quickly referred to as simply 'The Coffee Company'. This is how it will be known colloquially and that's because the name is far too long for people to continually say it in full. Another point for Starbucks after they shortened their name from Starbucks coffee, tea and spices.
The name should connect well with the business purpose of the company. If not, it should at least, feel appropriate in some way.
The Coffee Company That Also Sells Tea is by far the more literal name. It's appropriate in that you understand the product or service before interacting with it. However, names do not need to be literal to be appropriate. Starbucks, although not descriptive of the product, is still appropriate as coffee shops, bars and restaurants are often named after people.
People should find the name appealing. It should be fun to say and stimulating to think about.
Starbucks as a name is satisfying to pronounce, it has a good mouthfeel and easily rolls off the tongue. This gives them a distinct advantage over The Coffee Company whose full name is more of a task to pronounce than a treat.
5) OPEN TO CREATIVITY
A good choice of brand name will have ‘legs’ in as much as it is flexible and can be applied to creative variations, such as in a new service or product line.
Starbucks as a less specific name gives a greater range than The Coffee Company. This allows marketing departments and consumers to have more fun with it. Another good example of a name with a lot of range is Virgin.
6) LEGALLY DEFENSIBLE
The name should be unique enough that it can be trademarked and protected, not something that is only different to its competitors by small degrees.
Neither of these names should have trouble getting trademarked. However, The Coffee Company as a more generic and literal name is at greater risk of copycats encroaching on their copyright.
Overall, Starbucks has a name that is unique, fun to pronounce, is open to creativity and, while it is not directly descriptive of the product, it feels appropriate.
On the other hand, The Coffee Company Who Also Sells Tea is a fairly generic name, one that sinks into the quagmire of a hundred other competitors. It’s certainly appropriate to the products it offers, but far too literal, and the lengthy name is too clunky, causing a lack of focus on the brand.
It's clear which brand name is the winner. What's more important is that if businesses stick to this recipe for a good name it will provide them with a distinct advantage over their competitors and ensure strong branding is at the heart of their operation.
If you'd like to know how to avoid other brand naming mistakes, check out our free step-by-step guide to How to Name Your Brand!
Your brand name is the cornerstone of your business. It must encapsulate the ethos of your company and convey that to your clients. It must also be able to grow with your company as it moves into new areas of business in the future.
Your brand name must be:
open to creativity
and legally defensible.
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