When Longer is Better: Using Phrases in Brand Naming

By Mark Skoultchi

April 1, 2014

Butter2

When product or company naming, I can’t tell you how many times a client will ask us for a brand name that’s as short as possible. One or two syllables. Six letters or less. Whatever. And while occasionally there are circumstances where brevity might be called for (unusual packaging constraints, for instance), sometimes (in fact, lots of times) longer is better. Not longer alone, mind you. But if the choice is between a memorable long product name or company name—or a forgettable short one—I’d vote for the long one 10 times out of 10.

In particular, there’s one type of long brand name that’s surprisingly sticky if done well: the brand name that’s a phrase. It doesn’t matter if the phrase is a familiar one or an invented one. What matters is that the phrase is intriguing and provides a meaningful springboard into the story of the brand.

Here are just a few well-known brands that are phrases—or even sentences. If their marketing custodians had followed the shorter-is-better rule, these names never would have seen the light of day. Instead, each has gone on to, well, make quite a name for itself:

Apparel Naming: Fruit of the Loom
Fruit of the Loom
An old-fashioned brand name for a clothing and underwear company that dates back to 1851.

 

7 for all mankind
7 for All Mankind
Supposedly referring to the notion that women typically own seven pairs of jeans on average.
Citizens of Humanity
Another jeans brand from the creator of 7.
Rich & Skinny
Ditto.

Food Naming:
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!
Possibly one of the longest product names around, but no one seems to have trouble remembering it.
It’s-It
A pretty audacious name for an ice cream sandwich company, and devotees would say it’s right on the mark.

Mtn Dew

Beverage Naming:
Mountain Dew
Talk about romancing a soda.
Fat Bastard
The antidote to pretentious wines everywhere.
Full Throttle
You don’t need to be psychic to intuit this is an energy drink.

Magazine Naming:
Bon Appetit
Hello, foodies!

Hair smell

 

Personal Care Naming:
Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific
Nuff said.
Kiss My Face
Muah!

Toy Naming:
Etch a Sketch
Product naming that tells the whole story, with a catchy rhyme to boot.

Entertainment Naming:
Rotten Tomatoes
Who could forget this entertainment website name?

And here are some newer brands that rely on phrases in their company or organizational naming:

North of Nine
A PR communications boutique that prides itself on its innovative approach.
Where I’m From
An apparel company that makes t-shirts heralding wearers’ geographical origins.
Big On Mars
A unit of digital agency Digiteria that focuses on mobile technology and the increasing connectivity of the world (and perhaps soon, the universe).
Wild Mint
A purveyor of eco-friendly products.

Bottom line: an engaging, relevant phrase can make for a strong, differentiating brand name. Especially as brand names that are phrases are still a relatively unconventional naming construction. So if you’re naming a product or company, feel free to explore this option. And whatever you do, don’t rule it out because “it’s too long.”

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