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The “Name Game” Survey

September, 2002

A Special Report by Interbrand

Interbrand
Introduction
Dear Friends,

In July we conducted Interbrand’s first annual “Name Game ” survey to find out what trends marketers see for
brand names in this post 9/11, ethically-challenged business environment. In short, they said, names will get real,
but naming will get tougher.

• 19% say that “coined,” or fabricated names will remain popular;


• 9% see a trend toward adopting names that had been part of a company’s heritage;
• 57% see a trend toward more “real ” names —either singular or compound words (e.g. Apple, jetBlue, Tide)

However, trademark and cultural challenges, which are already problematic, will only increase should this trend
continue. Of our 218 respondents, 75 percent are directly involved in naming projects, and most use consultants
for their projects, citing that they improve the quality possible names and facilitate overcoming and/or eliminating
trademark barriers. (In the English language alone, there are more than six million words and virtually all of them
are registered.)

The survey also showed us that marketers understand their customers, and what their customers want now
are honesty and integrity in branding. And, one of the best ways to communicate sincere values is through the
use of brand names that are more accessible and meaningful to their customers.

In Interbrand’s view, branding doesn’t start with a product, service, or business. The evolution of a brand starts as
a concept formed in the minds of customers. But it’s a concept that’s based on a series of very tangible
interactions and impressions that are experienced by your customers. A brand’s name is that first impression.

And, we all know how crucial first impressions are. Names are the first public act of branding,and can be assets
of enormous value. Through their meaning and sound, names project the personality of a product, service or
company and should communicate to customers the quality and integrity of what they represent.

The “Name Game ” also asked participants whether they knew the derivations of some popular brand names--
Stolichnaya, Rolex and Starbucks. This part of the survey underscored that the relevance and value of a name
comes more from its perceived authenticity, rather than from a literal understanding of the word. As is the case
with these well-managed brands, the authenticity of the name and the brand are intertwined, creating an
experience for customers that communicates the brand’s values.

We hope you find the results as revealing as we did. Incidentally, all those who participated received a copy of
Interbrand’s “10 Most Common Naming Mistakes.” If you would like a copy, please call us at 212-798-7513.

Julie Cottineau
Managing Director, Naming
Interbrand Corp.
Methodology

• The Name Game was an online survey that ran on


brandchannel.com, an online newsletter about branding that is
produced by Interbrand.

• The survey was also e-mailed to marketing and branding


professionals across a range of industries. The survey ran from
July 22 through July 31, 2002.

• We heard from 218 global respondents, 75% of whom have


been directly involved in a naming project at their respective
companies.

Interbrand
Executive Summary - Quantitative
• Overwhelmingly, respondents reported that the typical naming project at their
companies was either for a new product or new service offering (66%).

• With respect to how new products and services are named, the results were
fairly evenly split. Half said that they were named on an ad hoc, case by cases
basis; slightly less said that names were chosen by reference to their corporate
structure.

• The majority of the respondents (60%) engaged outside consultants to some


degree on their naming projects.

• The greatest two benefits of using outside consultants were the improved
quality of possible names (42%) and overcoming trademark barriers (27%).

• Respondents said that the majority of naming projects lasted three months or
less (80%).

• 19% of respondents say that “coined” or made up names will continue be


popular; 9% see a trend toward adopting names that had been part of a
company’s legacy (a founder’s name, for example). But 57% see a trend
toward names that are “real” or either singular or compound words that reflect
the brand (i.e. Target, jetBlue, Tide).

Interbrand
Executive Summary - Qualitative

• When asked an open-ended question about naming obstacles, the most


frequently cited issues included:
Ø Trademark barriers
Ø Picking names that have appropriate URLs available
Ø Deadlines
Ø Lack of focus group testing
Ø Culture and language appropriateness
Ø Internal politics

• When asked an open-ended question about naming trends, the most


frequently cited trends included:
Ø There were be increasing cross-culture and legal issues, requiring
the expertise of outside specialists
Ø More “real” names will come into use, fewer whimsical ones
Ø Simplification will result from companies listening to the wishes of
their customers
Ø Ensuring a name is identifiable with product/service, while
maintaining differentiation in the marketplace

Interbrand
The Survey
The next page features the three questions that test your knowledge
of some popular brand names. If you’d like to compare your
answers to those of our respondents, answer these first before
going to the following page.
Question 1
Pick the correct company name origins

Starbucks:

a. Derived from “Starbuck” , a character in the novel Moby Dick


by Herman Melville

b. Name of the famous figure skater Jo Jo Starbuck

c. What they use to pay for stuff in Hollywood

d. None of the above

Stolichnaya:

a. The word Russians use for a drinking toast (like “skal” or salute”)

b. The emperor who founded the Russian ballet

c. Russian for “from the capital”

d. None of the above

Rolex:

a. Named for the patented winding mechanism, which “rolls”

b. No meaning but easy to pronounce and short enough to fit on the dial
of a watch

c. Name for the founder’s ex-wife, Rolanda

d. None of the above

Interbrand
Question 1
Pick the correct company name origins

Starbucks:

a. Derived from “Starbuck” , a character in the novel Moby Dick


by Herman Melville (56.5%) - Correct Answer

b. Name of the famous figure skater Jo Jo Starbuck (2.7%)

c. What they use to pay for stuff in Hollywood (8.2%)

d. None of the above (32.6%)

Stolichnaya:

a. The word Russians use for a drinking toast (like “skal” or


salute”) (28.3%)

b. The emperor who founded the Russian ballet (10.9%)

c. Russian for “from the capital” (41.8%) - Correct Answer

d. None of the above (19%)

Rolex:

a. Named for the patented winding mechanism, which “rolls”


(35.3%)

b. No meaning but easy to pronounce and short enough to fit on


the dial of a watch (39.1%)- Correct Answer

c. Name for the founder’s ex-wife, Rolanda (12%)

d. None of the above (13.6%)

Interbrand
Question 2
Choose the following that best
describes your company’s typical
naming project:

a. New Product (48.9%)

b. Line Extension (14.1%)

c. New Service (18.5%)

d. New Corporate Name (14.1%)

e. Other

Interbrand
Question 3
When your company names new
products/services, how are they
named?

a. Name each on a case by case basis (48.4%)

b. Refer to a corporate structure (47.3%)

c. Other (4.3%)

Interbrand
Question 4
Who is involved in the naming
process?

a. Internal team only (excluding legal) (33.2%)

b. Outside consultants only - creative and legal (3.8%)

c. Joint collaboration with internal team and outside consultants


(57.6%)

d. Other (5.4%)

Interbrand
Question 5
What are the top reasons for hiring a
naming consultant?
(respondents chose all that applied)

a. Improve the quality of possible names (41.8%)

b. Facilitate overcoming and/or eliminating trademark barriers


(26.6%)

c. Expedite the generation of possible names (23.9%)

d. Help ensure compliance to company’s overall brand strategy


(22.3%)

e. Reduce product/service time to market (13%)

Interbrand
Question 6
Typically, what is the duration of
naming projects at your company?

a. Less than one month (29.3%)

b. 1-3 months (50.5%)

c. 4-6 months (13.6%)

d. More than 6 months (6.5%)

Interbrand
Question 7
Name the greatest obstacle you
encountered during a naming project:
(representative comments)

• “”Language barriers”

• “Too many people with their own objectives in the process”

• “Copyright and trademark issues”

• “Finding names with appropriate URLs available”

• “Finding unique names that aren’t too similar to competing


products”

Interbrand
Question 8
As a marketing professional, where do
you think the future of names lies?

a. More “real”names (e.g. Target, Apple) 19%

b. More “coined” names (e.g. Accenture, Verizon) 19%

c. More “legacy” names (e.g. Wyeth, Braxton) 9.2%

d. Made up, but meaningful compound names (e.g. jetBlue,


MasterCard) 38%

Interbrand
Question 9
Please offer any other comments you
have with respect to naming trends…
(representative comments)

• “Keep it simple! Consumers want that.”

• “Coined names blur company and product identities.”

• “[Names will be] descriptive of or relating to implied value to


customer.”

• “I expect a continuation of one-word, subjective names for


brands - words that leave the interpretation to the consumer.”

• “Naming is much more than creating ad copy….the process


will increasingly involve serious outside consultants and lots of
serious thinking (not only “feeling).

• “Authenticity in all respects is critical in a name.”

Copyright 2002
Interbrand
All rights reserved.
About Interbrand
Each of Interbrand’s discrete capabilities is targeted toward enhancing one or more of
your brand’s touchpoints—the goal being to ensure the integrity of the contract that your
brand implies, and to create the most positive dynamic between you and your customers.

• Brand Naming and Verbal Identity: Names are the first public act of branding, and can be assets
of enormous value. Through their meaning and sound, effective verbal identities project the
personality of a product, service or company and should communicate to customers the quality
and integrity of what they represent. Successful brand names also should be relevant,
pronounceable, memorable and free of negative connotations. At the same time, creating
differentiated names is increasingly difficult owing to trademark and domain name challenges.
Interbrand has resources to overcome these challenges, easing and expediting your brand’s speed
to market. Interbrand pioneered the field of verbal identity and has developed thousands of
effective, motivating names for scores of industries, including Prozac, Heinz EZ Squirt, Maya
Angelou Life Mosaic by Hallmark, Gillette Mach 3, Nissan Xterra, Lumin8 by Avon, Orbitz and
Factiva.

• Brand Packaging: A product’s package design and structure can leave an indelible impression,
encouraging an initial purchase and fostering the emotional link that underlies consumer loyalty.
A package must be a powerful selling tool in itself, standing out from the clutter on a shelf. Also,
package structure is playing an increasingly important role in product purchase. Structure can
differentiate one product from others like it because it clearly proves the brand’s understanding
of its customers’ usage needs. Interbrand’s graphic and structural designers understand that a
brand’s packaging must instantly communicate its positioning and product benefits, and
reinforce that message after the purchase so that the brand becomes a mainstay on customers’
shopping lists.

• Brand Strategy: An independent, expert view is invaluable when assessing complex branding
issues such as the design of a new brand architecture, the repositioning of an existing brand, the
reinvigoration of an under-performing brand or the development of a new brand to suit a
particular market need. In all of these instances, our teams of strategic consultants work in
partnership with clients to produce focused and actionable solutions. The results reveal which
customer touchpoints are most critical to the continued health of the brand, and help yield the
highest return on a company’s brand assets.

• Brand Valuation: Stock markets, regulatory agencies and accounting groups increasingly
confirm that brands and other intangibles are a corporation's most valuable assets. Brand
valuation is a unique tool that quantifies the economic value of a brand. It is critical to marketing
investments and allows management to plan and assess the impact of their strategies. The first
company to ever publicly put a value on a brand, Interbrand has developed the most widely
endorsed brand-valuation methodology. To date, we have valued more than 3,000 brands
worldwide.
About Interbrand
• Corporate Branding: A well-orchestrated corporate branding system is an invaluable
communications tool in today’s complex world and does more than just identify a business or
organization -- it acts as an indication and endorsement of quality, value and reliability. A
corporation's established assets, all visible points of public contact, differentiate it from competitors.
Interbrand believes that corporate branding is a powerful strategic weapon, one that promotes
customers’ understanding of the corporate purpose and differentiates corporations and their products
in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

• Environmental Branding: Environments are one of the best opportunities a brand, corporation or
institution has for creating a compelling customer experience, and communicating its identity. By
developing an environment consistent with the brand message, a brand can provide its customers
with a predictable and familiar experience in all locations -- from retail environments and
tradeshows to the corporate environment. Interbrand’s environmental design practices employ state-
of-the-art technologies to design brand environments in a three-dimensional world, including the
design of interactive media and virtual environments.

• Internal Brand Alignment: An organization’s employees are often on the front lines of a customer’s
brand experience and are essential to communicating and carrying your organization’s values. As
such, a brand must stand for the relationship that an organization has with its employees, as much as
it represents the relationship it has with its customers through its product and service offering. Brand
building is an inside-out exercise, one that needs to engage the organization first before external
messaging can be truly credible. Brand stewards should drive initiatives that close the gap between
the actual and perceived, and hence will focus on brand building within their organizations in order
to communicate their values to an external audience. Our strategic consultants work with clients to
align the organization and its operations around brand values to bring to life the brand promise
through the four critical success factors: senior management stewardship, responsibility and
accountability, aligning business and brand strategy and ongoing performance measurement and
feedback.

• Research: All business decisions you make involve some level of risk to your brand. Clearly
defining and quantifying that risk is the key to enhancing the potential of your brand because it
minimizes the damage to your customer touchpoints. Interbrand uses research extensively and
commissions both qualitative and quantitative studies for clients. From the choice of a new name or
package design to the repositioning of an existing brand, or the introduction of a new one, our
experts help clients avoid expensive mistakes through research.

Interbrand