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Alok's Posts / Startup

What’s in a Name?

Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) inspired me to write this blog. If you haven’t heard CCR, I suggest you do – it’s immortal rock music that will heal your soul.

So, what’s in name? Would you call your band ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’? Try saying the name fast.

Or if I were a food entrepreneur, would I call my restaurant Mc Kejriwal? What on earth does ‘Lays’ chips mean? I don’t care where Altoids came from. Oh my God, my ketchup is called Heinz and my cereal is called Kellogg’s. What do I make of The Oberoi, or The Hyatt? Hell I want a coffee really badly.. Starbucks here I come…hmmm…that’s hardly the appropriate name of a place that would sell coffee! I love Sony…. Please just explain the brand name to me one day. Honda, Toyota, Samsung, Yahoo, et al, we know today because of their amazing products and services. Not because their name got us to buy them.

Spending time and money on the perfect ‘brand name’ creation is all bunk. Those who pretend that it matters are the false advertising types whose livelihood depends on making people spend money that they don’t need to.

My belief:

Consumers remember brands that perform for them – so be it a great ‘Jet Airways’ flight or a fantastic pizza from ‘Dominos’ – I remember these brands for what they did for me – NOT what they pretended to call themselves.

Consumers don’t care about brand base lines and logos. God knows how much money is spent by brand owners getting their logos and base lines ‘perfect’ – it just remains an ego trip for the top bosses. Try asking Johnny on the street what the seven colors in your logo mean or quiz your business partner about the half sun that appears in your logo… They will stare blankly back at you.

You can call your brand and business anything. Family name, city from where you come from, girlfriend’s mother’s name or the hospital in which you were born. If you are good at what you are selling, you will become the next Hertz (car rental service or even Meru Cabs for that matter)

Put your money where it matters. In making your product or service the best. Your brand and what its stands for. Blah blah will be taken care of by your customers



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  1. I started to read this because of of my fav band and I agree with all the points which you mentioned.Service or the product should be the main concern of any start up.

  2. There is a popular sweets chain in Andhra Pradesh, goes by the name ‘G. Pulla Reddy Sweets’. Hardly a modern brand name. But they have been doing something for their patrons for over 75 years – providing ‘sweets made from quality ghee.’ That is also their tagline by the way. The Reddy brand is so popular in AP that most sweet shops now have a Reddy in the name, to allude to G.Pulla Reddy.


  3. Alok, you forgot to mention zappos in your post 🙂

  4. I wonder why companies spend so much on domain names especially when quality trumps ‘understandability’?
    Ex: trumps

  5. very well said Alok… love to read your posts and learn from it as always.

  6. Alok, while I agree with the post in general, there are examples where the name has helped largely.  One example that comes to mind is Häagen-Dazs, a purely American product given a foreign branding including an outline map of Denmark on the early labels.

    Most people bought Häagen-Dazs thinking they were consuming some exotic Scandinavian ice cream and so it had to be good!  “Foreign” is a good brand in many geographies including India…

  7. very true alok! ‘brands are what we make of’ and its true right from haldirams,nirma,mdh,to rupa banian ,it hardly matters what you call your product,but in recent times I am seeing obsesion with ‘foreign’ brand names as john hill,john miller,lee cooper,etc.and I am still trying to figure out the logic behind the same though all this brands are promoted by indian retailers they think that ‘vilayati’ name bring them more audience and I urge everyone here to share whether this psyche works with indian consumers?

  8. Rose by any other name would smell as sweet is bunk in todays era of neuro marketing. It has been proven in multiple studies  as well real life that Names tend to affect Behaviour. Name is only one element of a Brand. However this one element is very important as it does affect human behaviour.

    1) People ate more food when it was accompanied by “California” wine vs. “North Dakota” Wine. 

    2) Food & Brand Lab found that calling the same portion of spaghetti “double-size” instead of regular caused diners to eat less. In fact, the double-size group left 10 times as much food on their plates! – 

    There are multiple case studies out picked from real world there which show that Name on a stand alone basis does affect behaviour. Name is an inseparable component of the Brand. 

    A wrongly chosen name would require more dollars to be spent as compared to a right name for the associations, emotions, personality traits, attributes which would need to assigned to the brand as part of the larger brand strategy.

  9. True. Mindless spending for a brand name is a wrong. But a relevant brand name does help people remember what you are, in an easy way. Let’s take an example of housing (but spending too much for ‘.com’ can’t be justified). You don’t need another line to know that it’s something related to houses.

    For brands which are age old now, It doesn’t matter at all. But I think for startups it will be beneficial to pay some attention (NOT unjustifiable sum of money) to that part!  

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