Their Brand Name is Nonsensical

“The soul never thinks without a mental picture.” – Aristotle

Brand names that don’t make sense are off-putting. If your name consists of a string of letters that are meaningful only to you, it’ll be tough to grasp and ever tougher to relate to. And if people can’t relate to your company or product name, why would they want it?

My master mind buddy, Marilynn Mobley, Senior Vice President of Edelman, the #1 rated PR agency in the United States, told me about a startling study that was done with preschoolers that illustrates the power of making your brand name visual. Researchers asked these youngsters what sounds barn-yard animals make.

When asked, “What sound do sheep make?” they said, “Baa.”

When asked, “What sound do cows make?” they said, “Moo.”

When asked, “What sound do ducks make?” the kids said, “AFLAC!”

Wow. That’s branding.

AFLAC, the huge insurance giant, had a branding challenge. People were reluctant to entrust ALFAC with something as important as their life insurance because they didn’t know what the name “stood for.”

So, in an effort to make their name more “relatable,” they asked themselves, “What does AFLAC sound like, look like in the real world?” Well, with a little stretch, it looks and sounds like a duck who quacks. This was the genesis of their popular ads featuring a lovable duck quacking “AFLAC.”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) achieved a similar success by using a friendly gecko as their visual icon and “spokesperson” (spokes-lizard?)

It’s a mistake to keep a brand name consumers don’t understand, relate to or want. Follow AFLAC and GEICO’s example and create a visual identiy people associate with you so they “get the picture.”

Connect your company’s name to something in the concrete world people can touch, feel, see, smell or taste. As soon as you do, something obscure becomes clear. Instead of going “Huh?!” people will say, “Oh, I see now” or “I get it.” And when they get it, chances are you’ll get their business.

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