Selling Smiles: The Teeth of Brand Naming


OK, I’ve been whitening my teeth lately, so I’ve been paying more attention to the naming of tooth whitening products. Take the (extremely) pricey little ampoules I got at my dentist’s office. Brand name? Opalescence. Good naming choice. Fancy-sounding coinage (helps to ease the sticker shock). Yet scientific in tone, in keeping with its medical pedigree: suggesting a credible formula behind the magical promise of whiter teeth. But what’s central is the emotional hook: the image of glowing, opal-like teeth.

If the brand name Opalescence is all high-brow subtlety and nuance, Crest’s Vivid White is frankly descriptive. Here’s a promise as bold as those blinding Hollywood smiles it recalls. And the unadorned language suits the mainstream Crest brand (and a product that sells for under $5). And then there’s the Rembrandt brand, which takes the metaphorical high road. Now the payoff isn’t just opalesque or vividly white teeth, but a smile—or maybe even a face—that’s a work of art. Rembrandt’s pricier than Crest’s Vivid White, but hey, we were prepared for that because of the European name. (There’s nothing like a European to help justify a hefty price point.) Besides, who wouldn’t pay more for a masterpiece? Three brands, three brand naming strategies. Each strikes the right note for its audience and price point. Each focuses on the same end benefit, but in very different ways. Say cheese.


With the rollout of over 700 new top level domain names, such as .xyz and .shop, brands have been left to wonder...
Plenty of companies use numbers in their name: Three Twins Ice Cream, Four Seasons Hotels, Six Flags, Nine West, and...
Last month, after almost 3 years of hemorrhaging money, RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Facing growing irrelevancy in the...