10 reasons why there are so many “X and Y” brand names these days
Names with the form “____ and _____” have become ubiquitous. The form isn’t new — Ben & Jerry’s, Johnson & Johnson, and Abercrombie & Fitch have been around for years — but recently it seems like this type of name is everywhere, especially in certain industries like food and beverage and apparel.
In the apparel category, for example, we have the recent launches of Time and Tru, Terra and Sky (both from Walmart), Ava & Viv (from Target), Scout + Ro, Lark & Ro, James & Erin, Franklin & Freeman (four from Amazon), and many others. There’s even a name-generating website that mocks the trend. So what gives?
Here at Catchword we love digging into naming trends, and helping you decide whether to embrace those trends or avoid them. So here are our top 10 reasons why “X & Y” (or “X and Y” or “X + Y”) names are so popular.
1. “X & Y” names evoke friendship, family, or, dare I say, romance. Whose heart doesn’t warm at the thought of two close friends? A pair of ideal siblings, angelically playing together (no parental grief here)? Or perhaps two young lovers? And even if the X and Y aren’t personal names, they do evoke an affectionate coupling.
2. Formulas help our memories. Familiar formulas provide a framework that enhances our ability to remember names (as long as there aren’t too many similar names using that same formula).
3. Pairing two names makes it easy for a brand to express two messages or deepen a single message. James & Erin is for men and women. Terra and Sky is both grounded and aspirational (and deeply natural to boot). Doubling the words also gives you ample opportunity for alliteration and consonance. Franklin & Freeman, Time and Tru, Ava & Viv.
4. The “and” gives the names a pleasant cadence and rhythm. Names with natural rhythms are also easier to remember. Go ahead, say some of the names out loud, nobody’s listening. Now say them without the “and.” See? (For those who prefer explanation to experience: The “and” is always an unstressed syllable, and the syllable that follow is always stressed “and Jerry’s,” “and Sky,” which creates an iamb, to use a term from poetry. An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable. The iamb has been used in literature from Ancient Greek drama to Shakespeare to the present. Many consider it the pattern that most closely resembles natural speech in English.)
5. Juxtaposition evokes sophistication and an earlier era. Putting two seemingly unrelated and even unexpected words together evokes a unique refinement or elegance that elevates the brand’s tone. It also hearkens back to the 19th century and earlier, when companies were named after the founders or used an ampersand before “Co” (Lord & Taylor, Tiffany & Co.). This retro hipness is right in line with the millennial aesthetic we see in, for example, handcrafted cocktails served in an apothecary-like gastropub.
6. Trademark is more likely to be available. The name of the game with trademarks is finding a name that isn’t confusingly similar to other names. Joining two distinct and unrelated words together makes trademark acquisition much simpler.
7. Exact domain name is easier to come by, and cheaper. In fact, the quest for exact domain names was a major driver behind other naming trends as well, like the cute misspelling trend (Digg), the dropped vowel trend (Tumblr), and the “-ly” trend (Insightly).
8. Pairing two things, especially personal names, suggests collaboration and accessibility. Brands who want to cultivate an epic or edgy vibe often embrace a single figurehead (or mastermind, cough Tesla cough). Brands that want to feel accessible can cultivate that by suggesting collaboration and togetherness.
9. This format makes it easy to use cool, graphic characters. Using symbols or punctuation in brand names can be fun and memorable, and “&” and “+” both give a name a graphical hook for the eyes. You could even place your “and” vertically to increase visual interest without impacting legibility.
10. The echo chamber perpetuates the trend. Once trends reach a tipping point, you can’t stop them. Consumers start to associate a style of name with certain emotions or desires or products, and then names pop up to capitalize on those expectations, which just creates more expectations and associations. The lasting success of brands in the apparel space that use this formula, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Croft & Barrow, surely has played a part as well. Names with the form “____ and _____” have become ubiquitous. Catchword explains why.