Who, or What, Are You?

  • While a literally descriptive brand or company name may sound like a ridiculous non-starter (don’t those crispy hexagons sound tasty?), conveying what the product or company actually is or does in the name can be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. How else will potential consumers know why they should seek you out? But how descriptive should you be? This depends on your position in your industry.

Two questions to ask are:

1. How much do consumers already know about you?

  • Existing products and companies have the associative meanings already built in to their product lines.  Consumers already know what Coke is, so there is little to no learning gap for Coke Zero.  But “Tiger,” a new, locally sourced organic cat food named after the owner’s cat, has no pre-existing meaning for consumers. The company might do better with “OrganiCAT,” or even, “Tiger Bites,” as both these brand names would suggest what the product actually is.

2. What other resources do you have to communicate with your  consumers?

  • Companies with a large promotional budget to support new products can take the risk of a purely catchy, non associative name, counting on the buzz created by clever advertising campaigns to fill the gap.  If you are a  micro-enterprise looking to carve out a new niche market, your brand name may have to do more of the “work” for you in describing your service or product.


  • Sometimes this can be achieved with a two part brand name:  one part “creative,” which seeks to distinguish your brand’s personality or style, and one part descriptive, which identifies the business you are in or the  product itself, ie: “Stonehenge Bakery.” Often this is done simply by branding your product or service with your own name, as in “Rachel King Photography.”  If that seems too literal to get consumers’ attention, think of the success of Campbell’s Soup or Tim Horton’s Donuts! Who knows?  Over time, your personal name could become one of  your company’s biggest sources of brand equity.