How Does a Brand Name Lead to Brand Success?

Companies large and small spend a considerable amount of time and effort on finding the right name for their brand. There’s no argument that first impressions are important, and a compelling, intriguing, and/or easy-to-remember name is the first step toward making that first touch point with customers and prospects a positive one.

In addition, many brands incorporate into their name an element of their product experience or clue you in to the human component or emotion of that experience. TikTok immediately conveys the short duration of the videos you create on its platform. Tesla is named after Nikola Tesla, the father of modern AC electricity technology—a natural fit for its all-electric cars. And Red Bull reflects not only the intensity and rush felt after consuming its energy drinks but also the mindset inherent in the adrenaline-fueled sporting events that it sponsors (Formula 1 racing, rallycross racing, skateboarding, surfing, etc.).

While the connection between a brand name and the emotional satisfaction it represents can be a pathway to customer engagement and marketplace presence, there is one thing that must be clearly understood: a great brand name has NO direct bearing on the success of the brand.

Consider some of the following brands that have enjoyed long periods of success and marketplace domination. For nearly a century, Kodak was unquestionably the leading brand name globally in photographic technology and materials. Snickers has been one of the most popular candy bars in the U.S. for decades. Google is, and continues to be, an integral part of our daily digital life.

So what do these iconic brands have in common? All have zero connection to their product experience or benefits. Kodak was a random name created by George Eastman, the company’s founder—he wanted a short name that included “k,” his favorite letter. Snickers was named after a horse owned by the Mars family. And Google is a misspelling of “googol,” the mathematical term for the number expressed by one followed by 100 zeros. (As irrelevant as the Google name is to its function, at least the founders settled on this name—thankfully—after first naming their search engine “BackRub.”)

In other words, great brands are made and sustained through breakthrough ideas and careful understanding and anticipation of customer desires—not by the cleverness of their names. A brand’s promise and follow-through on that promise is what gives the name its credibility and power, not the other way around.If you’re looking for a creative, engaging, and memorable name for your brand, by all means, knock yourself out—who doesn’t love an interesting name? Just keep in mind that building your brand is an entirely different endeavor than naming it.