The importance of naming

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 April 2015

Brand names and brand naming are important 

Brand names to increase preference

Brand names and brand namingOften as not, rebranding involves new brand names. This is because most existing brand names arise organically. They were product, corporate or brand names created to reflect a value or need that existed at the time of the brand’s founding. Often, when we look at the names, they seem like a time capsule reflecting an earlier epoch.

Think about a few of these brand names and you will see exactly what I mean. Electrolux, Jiff, Tang, Duncan Hines, Aunt Jemima, Polaroid, Tupperware, Wonder Bread and Pepsi are all brands whose name alone indicates the era the brand name found its way to the market.

Some feel dated because we are less familiar with them. Some, like Pepsi, are so familiar that the brand name is not given a second thought in terms of intrinsic meaning. Electrolux (including its logo script which was recently updated) looks so dated that it has a slight resurgence of cool.

Brand names and PampersWhen we create a brand name we think more about the emotional importance of the product to the target audience than we do with any form of corporate identity. This is because our understanding of the emotional properties in brands and brand naming has changed.

Today, we know that brand purchases are all a part of the customer’s self-identification. We all tend to favor brands that in some way reflect back to us an image of ourselves.

The most powerful brands allow us to find ourselves in that value. Simply put, we like to buy things that are in concert with our own expressed values and precepts. We appreciate brands that reinforce our ability to say to ourselves (as opposed to showing off to others), “Yes, I want to be THAT.”


“Pampers was a very intelligent means of telling the purchaser that they were in fact pampering their child”

Brand Names in the Diaper Category

So let’s take a look at the disposable diaper category (called Nappies in Europe).

This category dates all the way back to the 60s and, in some ways, the brand names reflect that. However, the naming tried to own an emotional intensity that best described the value and self-description of the target market.

For anyone who has had a baby, you know first hand the emotional changes that arise. Suddenly, your own life is less important and the care and nurturing of that little infant becomes your life’s highest emotional intensity. (This is before they become teenagers and you want to kill them!)

So it made sense that diaper brand names should reflect this highest emotional intensity.

Think about this: Pampers, Luvs and Huggies all represent a hook into that emotional chord. Of course, the purpose of the brands in those days was not stealing share from one another but in the conversion from cloth diapers to disposable ones.

brand names and huggiesIn many ways, the early converts had to battle the cognitive dissonance of leaving a labor-intensive process (collecting the used diapers in a pail, washing the cloth diapers, disinfecting them and, in many cases, boiling them) with simply opening a package and then throwing a soiled diaper away.

Process often is translated in terms of importance and it took years for dependence on cloth diapers to go away.

brand names and LuvsName origins

The names are interesting.

Pampers was a very intelligent means of telling the purchaser that they were in fact pampering their child (meaning taking better care of them than the cloth standards). Huggies, which came along after Pampers, was an attempt to equate the disposable diaper with hugs and kisses (similar to the Pampers story).

Luvs needs no explanation but is certainly a dated name that sounds rooted in the 60s and 70s.

The problem these brands face today is that the purpose for which they were created is no longer viable. None of them need to convince cloth diaper users to switch.

Instead they need to steal share from competitors and this is difficult when all the brand names claim the same turf.

I believe it is high time for a flanker brand to be launched by either Kimberly Clark (the makers of Huggies) or P&G (which makes both Pampers and Luvs) to reflect this new market flux.

I believe a newly branded flanker in this category could increase its relevance and therefore gain preference on an aging category.

Today, parents do not need to be reminded by a diaper that they love their baby. Instead they need to find an emotional reason to choose a brand beyond just price, fit and dryness.

What do you think? What do the brand names mean to you? How are you choosing between diaper brands?

Read an article we wrote about diaper market share here


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