What's in a name?

The world’s most valuable brand is estimated to be worth GBP 123.1 billion according to Forbes. Would a different name make your brand more valuable?

It may be impossible to say exactly how much a brand is worth. Nothing exists in a vacuum separated from other factors. The only thing we know is that a good name can do wonders, internally and externally. A good name is easier to like, to trust and easier to profit off.

In this post we pose the following important questions:

  1. Why is it important to develop a name to a trade name?
  2. What should you think of when you are considering changing a name?
  3. How can quantity be a quality in the naming process?
  4. When should you think of getting a new name?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 new launches in the grocery trade are gone within three years? And that a great number of product and company names disappear before you have even heard of them? Half of them disappear in their first year. Three out of ten survive for five years. It is, of course, not enough to blame the names but there is no reason to doubt that other name concepts would, in many cases, have had better results.

A good product, service or company is a good start

A good, selling name for an absolutely hopeless product or company won’t get anywhere. All you achieve then is that more people learn more quickly what to avoid, aided and abetted by the social media. If you have something good to sell, and you have, of course, the right name at the right place can perform great or small miracles.

How important is a good name?

No name comes into existence in a vacuum. So it is not so easy either to accurately measure how much of a company’s value can be accounted for under the choice of name. The name is one of several factors that collectively give us a more or less personal relationship with a company. Everything from front men, advertising, press coverage and mentions online to rumours, information and disinformation from friends and celebrities plus personal experiences are involved in forming our image of everything from the shop on the corner to global companies.

But what all these meeting places have in common is their very name. And isn’t it quite simply the case that some companies have a name and manner that makes it easier to believe in negative things said about them? Aren’t there also others that radiate something we prefer to be positive towards? What is absolutely certain is that the name is an important ingredient when it comes to building up a brand.

According to Forbes, these 10 brands are the most valuable in the world:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Coca-Cola
  • Facebook
  • Toyota
  • IBM
  • Disney
  • McDonald's
  • GE

  • From name to trade name

    The greatest challenge is developing something that can move on from being just a name to become a trade name – or a brand. A brand is not primarily a physical item, it is just as much something that occurs at an emotional level. It is about the things that give your company and your products and services an additional value over and above measurable quantities, such as price and availability. In particular, it is about whether it clearly distinguishes your company or your product from the competitors.

    Names that challenged the status quo in the previous millennium

    There was a reaction to the global companies that had ignored consumers’ customer experiences for far too long. A number of new brands had emerged and challenged the establishment, which was also reflected in the names they adopted.


    They chose a name that did not in any way sound like any of the conservative computer companies they were to compete with at the tail-end of the 70s. A name that touched people on a more emotional level than giants like IBM and Hewlett & Packard.


    “You’re virgins in this business”, people said to Richard Branson & Co when they were about to start up in the record industry in 1972. Branson turned this into something positive and made it the company’s name and has shown time and time again that he is prepared to make waves in sectors that are virgin territory for the company.


    Known first and foremost as the world’s biggest river up to 1994, when Jeff Bezos launched his ambitious ecommerce business and turned the book industry upside down. In a short time, this became the world’s biggest bookshop and, since then, there has been a steady flow of new products at Amazon.

    Names that have challenged the status quo recently

    It is the new digital-based companies and their completely new business models that are responsible for the latest revolution in the market. Their ability to change the rules of the game at lightning speed and react immediately to the customer’s needs has changed many sectors. This has given us a number of exciting company names that play on the emotions. Since it is extremely important and increasingly more difficult for a company to own the .com domain, we have had a few names with active misspellings, such as Issuu and Flickr.


    A software company that made it possible to make video calls via the Internet entirely free of charge or very inexpensively. Was developed by a Swede, a Dane and a few Estonians and launched in 2003. The name paraphrases “Sky peer-to-peer”.


    Air Bed & Breakfast was founded in 2008, and was abbreviated to Airbnb in 2009. They have revolutionised how people live when they are out travelling and can now offer a seven-figure number of places to stay at in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. It is incredible how quickly a new company name can penetrate the market completely in the digital economy.


    This app-based taxi company lets the customer call drivers via their smartphone and was established as recently as in 2009. Uber is an anglification of the German word über, one of the few German words that clearly has the trick of also working with the English-speaking youth of today.

    Generic names


    The company invented the photocopier and, over time, the name became synonymous with the copies you make.


    There are many people who say Hoover when they refer to vacuum cleaning.

    Things to think about when considering a name change?

    1. Why do we want to change? Is this something we want to do or something we feel we should do?
    2. Is the old name too bad, out-of-date or no longer representative?
    3. Are there mergers, demergers, decompositions or other factors applying pressure?
    4. How much marketing material, signs, interior and exterior, need to be changed, now and over time?
    5. How long will it take to establish the new name in the market?
    6. How much will it cost us to achieve the level of acceptance and recognition we need?
    7. In a naming process, quantity can be a quality

    Some questions?

    These are some of the questions we may ask you but, presumably, these things will emerge absolutely naturally when we speak together.

    • Who are you?
    • What do you want?
    • What is important to you and why?
    • What is the purpose of what you are involved with?
    • What do you want the name to achieve?
    • What are your target groups?
    • Who are your competitors and what do they do?
    • What legal, practical and undiscussable restrictions exist?
    • In which media and contexts is it most important for you to make a good impression?
    • Which guidelines exist with regard to the name; length, tone, feeling?
    • Will the name be positioned in relation to your own products or competitors?
    • Are there other words the name needs to fit in well with?
    • In which countries will the name be used and in which languages does it need to work?
    • Which variants of the domain name is it essential that you own?

    Thinking outside the box

    Finding a name for the business you own or the company you work for can easily become an emotional process. A name must arouse feelings, so this is a very positive thing, but it is often difficult for employees and owners to see the situation from outside. They can be too close to it. A point must be made of preventing internal power struggles or individuals’ preferences from becoming absolutely decisive in as important a choice as this. It is, therefore, important to make the decision on the basis of the right criteria. BinaryFold4 is situated outside the box and can help you come up with the right solution using professional methods.

    When do you need to think about names?

    When a new company is on the way.

    A completely blank sheet and flexible plans will provide room for both strokes of genius and howlers. Here, it is important to maintain some balance.

    When an old company needs some fresh thinking

    It is easy to end up on well-trodden paths while the world rushes past. Has the customer group become too old or does the name badly signal all the changes that have happened to your company?

    When mergers and acquisitions occur

    When Business A and Business B merge, they are often tempted to call themselves AB. This was the case when Hydro and Texaco became Hydro Texaco. Not all names should be automatically merged when the companies merge. True enough, sometimes this is done for the sake of appearances, for continuity or to keep the peace while they actually wish to phase out one name gradually or come up with something completely new. Den norske Creditbank + Bergen Bank gradually became DnB. EDB + Ergo Group changed name to EVRY.

    When a new product or a new service is to be developed or changed.

    If you have the right product or service on the go, you deserve the right name. What should the car model, bank service, mobile payment, building, alcopop, drone, app, bar or subsidiary’s subsidiary be called?

    When a product series is to be developed

    Apple first marketed its Mac OS X series with various carnivores, including Puma, Jaguar, Tiger, Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion as new versions came along. They have now gone over to nature areas in California; Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan. For ardent enthusiasts, such thing can make this personal computer become even more personal. And for some of us, it is easier to remember than terms like Mac OS X 10.11., or whatever it’s called…!?

    When you need a selling title

    A good book title can do a lot for sales. The same applies to movies, TV series etc. It was a good film, but would it have been noticed if it had a much more relaxed title? And would it have been remembered 23 years later?

    What can BinaryFold4 help you with when it comes to developing a name?

    • Developing the name of a product, service, company etc. in line with the brand platform, values, targets and strategic guidelines. Preferably in parallel with devising the logo and supplementing the design.
    • Participate in evaluating whether or not your company needs a new name.
    • Adjusting upwards, modernising, improving and reinforcing an existing name by means of design, a new pay-off or something else the company needs.
    • Legal clearance when it comes to patents, domains and approvals.
    • Testing, protecting and scrutiny of the suggested name, so that is works with all relevant target groups and language groups.