What makes a name memorable?
If it takes three, seven or eleven times to have your brand come to mind with an audience, we start to see the economics of memory. Three attempts to make a memory costs a lot less than eleven, so a name that gets you there in three is that much more valuable. These are hypothetical numbers, but the math could be done with each of these if you look at any brand, from B2B to B2C to C2C to H2H (whatever the fractal that is).
Let’s do the simple math, just to see where it leads. You’re launching an ad campaign hoping to reach 100,000 people three times, in order to embed a memory as strong as those folks from Inception managed to do. Now, run that 2-3 more times in order to make an impression with the name that goes to 11 on the “lack of memorability” scale. Not only have you spent more than the boss would like to ever see, you’ve also likely annoyed the few who didn’t care to see your ad 11 times during this week's episode of The Masked Singer.
In essence, memorable names bring less annoyance and less expense.
Let’s put that into practice with Butter, Vodka and Mosquitos. One of these we named, one we said don’t rename and one was a brand name.
Dinner Bell Creamery is a brand of butter and other products from the largest dairy cooperative in the Midwest, AMPI. The cooperative brand (AMPI) is mainly for the farmer-owners and commercial channels but didn’t have the elasticity to take on a consumer product role. You could say because the letters AMPI don’t start a story in your head like Dinner Bell Creamery does for a dairy product consumer. And, three words to start a story is much more memorable than four random letters.
My mom would never say to me, I love AMPI butter, but she has said to me, strangely before she knew Capsule did the work, that she loves Dinner Bell Butter and of course was rather excited to find her son was part of it. When it comes to this stuff, mom is great at spreading the word (intentional pun).
Now to the Double Cross, a brand of vodka from Slovakia.
The Lorraine cross, or what is now known as a double cross, dates back to the conquering of Jerusalem in 1066. Today, the most common connection to the phrase is negative, as in a backstabbing act. So, when a potential client says they’ve picked this as their name for a new vodka from Slovakia, what else do you say but, “hell yes!”
Memorability is not about what feeling is felt, but the fact that a feeling is created. Negative meaning can be changed to positive, just by buying someone a Double Cross martini, you’ve redesigned what it means to be “double crossed.” And, while the first reaction might be negative, there are plenty of lukewarm brand names which elicit no emotional reaction at all. Feelings create memories, apathy does not.
Last in our series of three names, the Minnesota state bird, the mosquito.
Who would ever name a brand after the blood sucking scourges of many a summer day? Well, if you’re going to make a memory, describing what you do will not get you there. So, for a promotional products company looking to convey how truly distinct they are, Mosquito is an ideal name. The industry is clogged with boring, descriptive, apathetic, functional names like Custom, Pinnacle and Empire followed by “promotional products.” Mosquito designs custom, memorable gifts for people who want to make an impression. To be interesting and worthy of a memory it requires hard decisions and a name like Mosquito is a great example.
Of course, there are a thousand other nuances about how to make a name more memorable (like objects are more memorable than concepts), but this at least gets you started.
If you’re looking for some perspective on whether your names are memorable, reach out.