Don’t Ask The Customer18 Apr 2013
I’m a big fan of research – especially testing that’s conducted with clear goals, good metholodologies and rigorous recruitment.
And, clients want to test name candidates for a new product, service or company to see what names people like.
Yet, name testing is inherently flawed. That’s because as humans we’re trained to like names that are more rational and descriptive. Yet, as I’ve said before in this blog, the best names are not descriptive but more, shall we say, suggestive and preferably some sort of neologism (that’s fancy-speak for a ‘made up word’).
Imagine if Starbucks didn’t exist and we were all still drinking that bad coffee served in a Greek style paper cup from New York City bodega. Ugh. We’ll let’s not think about those days, but anyway, here’s my point: If you asked a customer to evaluate three names, let’s say: CoffeeShop, Javalicious or Starbucks which one WOULDN’T test well. Indisputably, Starbucks would score terribly. Consumers would rightly ask what the heck the word means. A few bookworms might know that Starbuck is a character in ‘Moby Dick’. By contrast, CoffeeHouse and even Javalicious would score better because they are more descriptive.
Look, I’m not saying name evaluation research is a waste of time or money, it can be a helpful tool to determine if any of the names would be inappropriate (vs preferred).
By this measure, it’s unlikely that any consumers would say that Starbucks would be inappropriate – it just wouldn’t rate well in terms of preferences.
I could cite dozens of other examples of names – Wii, McDonalds, Budweiser even the world’s most valuable brand, Coca-Cola –that probably wouldn’t ‘perform’ well in a consumer test in terms of ‘likes’:
It’s important to remember that the name is just the verbal component in a brand. The logo, communications, advertising will all play a role in building meaning and brand equity.