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What’s in a name? Be strategic when naming your brand

22 July 2022 4 min read

What do you think are the values and qualities associated with a property developer named “Hammer”?

Names carry with them connotations and associations. Pick a random word from the dictionary and you would automatically begin to think of visuals, sounds, and even emotions attached to it. For this reason, the process of naming a brand can be an extensive exercise, breaking down the psychology and etymology of every word. The right name can make or break what it describes.

This applies to places. The name of a location can be impressionable on prospective visitors. The place name helps people identify with it and may carry historical associations that are meaningful to its inhabitants, thus creating a sense of belonging.

Places of prominence change their names too, such as countries and cities. Saigon changed their name to Ho Chi Minh City; Hanseong to Seoul; Siam to Thailand; Democratic Kampuchea to Cambodia; Burma to Myanmar; and Edo to Tokyo. Most recently, Ankara officially changed their name to Türkiye. This was a part of their rebranding campaign to step away from negative connotations associated with ‘turkey’.

As times change, these places go through a rebrand due to historical or practical reasons. A place rebrand or place renaming can make powerful changes to the way the place is perceived and the emotions that the place evokes. Names give us a sense of what the place represents, identifies with the communal history to which their inhabitants belong, and creates presence.

On a micro level, individual places and property developments can also benefit from a specially designed brand name. “Urban Green”, a name we at Sedgwick Richardson crafted for Kusto Home developments in Vietnam, is a prime example that fulfils the place brand’s distinctive story. It is easy to pronounce for a local market, while reflecting the sense of duality in having the best of both an urban lifestyle and green living.

When the place name successfully ties itself to the brand, the name can convey the desired lifestyle of the prospective tenants or visitors by associating with the things that people want when they visit. In branding, the naming strategy incorporates both the emotional considerations and rational criteria of why the name could be suitable.

Focused on fulfilling the brand idea, the name must be able to convey the lifestyle as well as sustainable elements to meet people’s emotional considerations. The lifestyle addresses what they want today. Meanwhile, the sustainability references the needs of the future.  It also reflects the unique features of the place experience.

Meanwhile, the name should be easy to pronounce, has no negative associations, can be referred to in English, can be trademarked, and is an available domain on the web. Some brands might even need to consider whether the name has been taken on social media platforms. These are the rational and technical criteria that are addressed in the strategic process of naming a place.

Therefore, before choosing a brand name, be aware that the name is an extension of your brand. Identify the emotional benefits that stakeholders would relate to, rational considerations, and technical probabilities of applying the name. After the brand name is chosen, be sure to test it and that it conveys the desired brand personality. The right brand name for your business can be the deciding buy-in factor.

Dominic Mason
Managing Director, Southeast Asia
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