Naked Brand Names: Standing Out Without a Logo


ADOTAS – Last-century business names were elaborately dressed with uniquely-stylized lettering, colorful logos, slogans and contextual support. This century, such “stylized dependency” has been pushed over the cliff by neo-socio-mobile-media-lingo. They’re stripped and typed in black and white text as soundbite-sized “bare naked words,” blending into chat lines alongside abbreviations and numbing-mumbo-jumbo. The majority of big-name brands are losing their luster. Powerful imagery from the old newspaper era of double-sized, full-page ads are replaced by typed words on small portable devices.

Can you identify the high-maintenance big-brand names in the following social media chats?

… just checked the wind at the mall, grand service but tag too high…

… I have no option but united, they would know where my real goodies are…

…  no matter what, for me prime is the way to go before I try orange or wave…

… and then she gave me a rolex…

Highly distinct brand names like Rolex or Panasonic are identifiable in any typed conversation, while diluted names like “United,” “Premier,” “Orange,” “Wave” and “Wind” seem to disappear in the text, making no sense, causing confusion and building no distinct name identity. Camouflaged brand names are only going to end up invisible.

Today, the socio-mobile-lingo depository is the fastest-growing and the largest communication pool in the world. Tweeting, Facebooking, MySpacing, YouSmiling, MeWatching, YouListening and LinkedInning have transformed name brands into typed lingo.
The majority of last-century brand names do not fit the next-generation digital platforms.  If global socio-mobile marketing is mandatory for high-level results, names must pass a “nudity test:” a name must be inserted into an everyday social media conversation and checked to see if it’s still identifiable or if it gets lost within the text. If it gets lost, that’s  instant proof why cash registers aren’t ringing.

Last century, when names with special styles of lettering appeared in full-page ads, there was no need to clarify the meaning or connection of the name with the subject. “United Furniture” would show furniture arranged in shape of the letters, “United Logistics” a large cargo ship or “United Bank” a monetary symbol and logo. Everybody understood what was what. Today, with some 250,000 different businesses around the world already using United” as a brand name, the typed word gets lost in the depths of the dictionary. The name value and visibility for such style-dependent names are dying on upstream and downstream social media.

In this socio-mobile marketplace, only a very small percentage of highly distinct names has a clear competitive advantage. Microsoft, Rolex and Panasonic are easily identifiable in any sentence, in any format, without question.

Corporations are shy to face the nakedness of their own names. When the managers of United Logistics see their brand name, they are so conditioned to first see the stylized logo, the slogan and the whole package, with a globe replacing the “o” in “Logistics,” a tiny plane forming a line arching over the name and bold italic letters signifying the fast dynamics of the trade. Now try searching “united” on social media. That will demonstrate the instant erosion of a branded name identity.

Currently, studies show that the majority of business names are based on dictionary or geographic words followed by surnames and acronyms or initials. Less than 1 percent of business names are distinct and unique. With global ad expenditures are touching $700 billion, why is this aspect of global naming complexity not on the syllabus of any MBA program? The question remains: What is the reason for this waste, and more importantly, who benefits from it?

After the massive success of social media, new domain name management platforms will further kindle huge fires for major global branding and marketing services. A new stage is being set by ICANN (the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) and their gTLD (global top level domain name) program, where name-centricity will drive the digital branding explosion. What should the brand owners do? Strip their business names clean of every support, attachment and gimmick, and assess the risk of them being lost in the crowd of common language. Without a professional name evaluation report, the entire marketing and branding budget may be questionable. A distinct name identity is what separates a name from a word; the stripped down identity test will prove this.


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