The other day, I was browsing the internet and I chanced upon this picture. It made me wonder what it would be like if just like email addresses or brand names, our names had to be unique.
What if a doctor or a town hall employee were to tell you: “I’m sorry Sir, the name Nicole is already taken. Nicole_435 and Nicole2323 are still available though. Do you want one of those or do you want to choose another name?” or “Well, the name Nicole is already taken, but I see in my database that her owner usually goes by the nickname Nikki. You could try getting in contact with her and see if she would agree to sell you her rights on the name” or even “Well, the name Nicole is already taken, but the database says she is a doctor, you daughter can have the name if she agrees to never work in the medical field.” That would be crazy, right?
Well, that’s what happens for brand names.
We never really think about how brands came up with their names. It’s like the name just popped out of the air one day and stuck around and we got so used to it we forgot it hadn’t always existed.
The truth is nowadays, coming up with a good name is exceedingly difficult. First, because the vast majority of the most common words and names are already trademarked. Oh sure, if it is already taken you can still try to buy the name you want from its current owner, but not everyone has the necessary financial means at their disposal. Secondly, because in our globalized world, brands need globalized names: names that will be easy to pronounce no matter which country you are settled in and that won’t hold a negative meaning in the language of any of those countries. Names trendy enough to appeal to consumers, but not too much so they won’t be outmoded too quickly. Names that in themselves hold rich meanings and personality. Just like parents want the best name possible for their child, we can’t expect brands not to want a perfect name for themselves.
Actually creating a name is a long and challenging process. What people see, in the very end, is one name, the Chosen One. What they don’t see is the endless list of thousands of names from which the Chosen One was picked.
Like parents make list of names they like and then agree on one or more to give to their precious and beloved offspring, brands are just as meticulous (if not more) when it comes to naming themselves or christening their latest product. The main difference being, parents don’t need to pay to register their child’s name. I wonder what it would be like, if we actually had to trademark our names, don’t you?