As consumers, it is not often we stop and think about the name of a product we are buying or the company we are buying from, especially in the case of familiar brands. On reflection, and particularly taking a name out of context, we might notice some strange choices. For example, have you noticed that Christian Dior’s perfume range called ‘Poison’ is not exactly an enticing name for a liquid product? And have you ever really thought about Richard Branson’s choice of the name ‘Virgin’? These, however, are extremely successful brands who have no trouble selling their products. How do they accomplish this, we might wonder. And is it worth taking the risk?

Richard Branson reportedly chose the name ‘Virgin’ for his record sales because the records were being sold in new condition, which was in contrast to other record sales where the records were previously listened-to in record booths. The records were ‘untouched’ and this helped to promote their sales. He took the risk in using the name, and it worked, as it fits the product.

The branding of ‘Poison’ has become successful as a “mysterious and iconic fragrance – an ultimate weapon of seduction”. With this description, Dior shows how the product really begins to fit the name, and the ‘poison’ suddenly becomes a temptation for the customer to purchase.

Bold and controversial naming is great for impact and differentiation. It can also reflect your intended market, if your customers also like to be conspicuous and daring. There are limits to this kind of naming, of course. The two examples above would not have been able to use these names if they did not fit the brands at all; you would not name a children’s drink ‘poison’. But choose your bold name carefully and do your research, and you could have a crucial tool in drawing your public’s attention.