Kevin: that was the perfect name. Short, sharp and assertive: a guarantee of charisma and distinction. At least that is how
Carlo Verdone convinced Claudia Gerini to pick her future son’s name in famous Italian movie Viaggi di Nozze. To cite
another milestone movie in Italian cinema, in Mitici (Colpo Gobbo a Milano), Ricky Memphis tried
to reassure Claudio Amendola about letting a very young Monica Bellucci into
their newly formed criminal gang with this simple comment: I’ll say just one
thing, her name’s Deborah, with an H…
If a name represents the destiny of its bearer in popular culture, in branding the name often determines the destiny of
the person who chooses it. The wrong name can compromise the potential success
of a product or service, meaning all investment in its development and launch
has been in vain. And, just like destiny, it can be hard to change a name. That
is why naming is increasingly being recognised as one of the most relevant
disciplines in the world of branding.
It is certainly not an exact science: there is no one creative process that works better than another, no formula to
calculate the economic return of an effective name. But there are factors that
an expert can assess: pronounceability, memorability and the absence of
negative connotations for the target consumer to name but a few. It is well known that in 1922, Luisa Spagnoli, inspired co-founder of Perugina, decided to name her new pralines ‘Cazzotti’
(Punches); it was Giovanni Buitoni who convinced her that the name ‘Baci’
(Kisses) was perhaps more appropriate. And returning once more to Deborah, the
success of the cosmetics brand started in the Sixties shows that the name was
spot on for the category and target it was aimed at, despite the H.
Naming can be the fruit of pure creative intuition but, more often than not, a good name comes with technique and experience. When a fruit producer from the south of Italy asked CBA to redevelop the identity of their product, the first thing needed was a new name. The former name was chosen intuitively but was not suitable for the international market. The creative process began with the entrepreneur’s passionate account of his land and roots. This was all the
inspiration we needed to identify the different semantic areas of our research:
grapes, the Mediterranean and the joy of fruit. All areas synonymous with
Italian values and relevant for the international market yet still credible for
Italians. Each area was then investigated from a lexical perspective, producing
hundreds of roots and phonemes that were then combined into words. The idea was
to find a sound that captured the simple, sweet nature of the fruit being
offered to the consumer, just as Nature intended it.
One of the main problems when naming is legal availability. This is really a matter for legal experts but an initial clearance search is essential to ensure that the client doesn’t fall in love with a name that cannot actually be used. With 3 million brand names already registered and 54,600 more requested in 2014 alone (almost 150 a day!), the Italian Brand Registry is the archenemy of all namers. Many of our names fell at this first hurdle.
After our names were filtered according to availability, only 21 survived. Almost all of them were made-up names with no connection to terms of any real meaning. In the end, our decision was mostly motivated by simplicity: Nuva. English-speaking consumers would immediately pick up on the reference to the term ‘new’ and appreciate the Italian sound of the name; and Italian consumers would have no problems remembering such a clear and straightforward name, which just added a single letter to the name of the fruit. The market reaction was very positive and solved the problems that had been encountered by the previous name.
Every name has its place but the problems are always the same: distinctiveness, comprehensibility, commercial use, etc. Names that pass these tests are definitely potential candidates but that alone is not enough to determine their success. Context, channel, product quality, coherent communication and other ingredients are just as decisive. The right name cannot solve everything. But the wrong name certainly doesn’t help.
Cristiano Mauri, Client Director