The Importance of Names in Marketing, Branding and Copywriting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, names are important and hold meaning. Our own personal names each have their own history, their own etymological significance. For some, the etymology is rich and expansive. For others, like my name, the etymology started with my entrance into the world, when my parents decided to construct a name that was new to them. In both cases, the impact or message is the same: names mean something to us.

Think about when you first meet someone. You are introduced, you take a mental note of the name, but you may or may not put too much thought into it in that initial moment. It's only later that, when you become friends with this person, you realize how perfectly suited their personality matches their name. It's as though no other name on the planet will suffice. At that point, the name means something to you: it inhabits all of the characteristics of that person. When you meet another person with the same name, you instantly think of your friend and wonder if they share any common traits.

But, it isn't just in the names we call ourselves. We also find meaning (value, personality, etc.) in the names of the products we consume, the businesses we patronize, the brands we associate ourselves with.

One of the first brand names that comes to my mind is Apple, Inc. Apple is a behemoth. Its reach is massive. People worldwide know the name--unless you live under a rock in a desert on Mars. But you may not know where the name came from. In the biography Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson describes the conception:

Now that they had decided to start a business, they needed a name. Jobs had gone for another visit to the All One Farm, where he had been pruning the Gravenstein apple trees, and Wozniak picked him up at the airport. On the ride down to Los Altos, they bandied around options. They considered some typical tech words, such as Matrix, and some neologisms, such as Executek, and some straightforward boring names, like Personal Computers Inc. The deadline for deciding was the next day, when Jobs wanted to start filing the papers. Finally Jobs proposed Apple Computer. "I was on one of my fruitarian diets," he explained. "I had just come back from the apple farm. It sounded fun, spirited and not intimidating. Apple took the edge off the word 'computer.' Plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book."

I love that. The names we create and the names we are drawn to are often the simplest. In the case of Apple, Jobs wanted something that was "fun, spirited and not intimidating." The word "apple" is precisely that. When I think of "apple," separate from the company, I think of words like "fresh," "crisp," "natural," "clean," and "delicious." These are words that mean something to us and evoke feelings and experiences we've all had.

Thinking about names (and words in a grander sense) is an essential component of branding and marketing. Brilliant creators, like Jobs, clearly understand this. As for freelance writers, like myself, the same component applies, even if it's on a much, much (much) smaller scale.

For instance, in order to create the most compelling, engaging, and relevant copy for a particular company, a copywriter must understand every aspect of the brand itself: goals, personality, target audience, marketing history, and, quite naturally, the salient words and names that make up the company's narrative. By doing so, the copywriter will aptly reinforce the brand, or provide a much-needed foundation for a new or reinvented brand.

That could be your brand.

Copywriting inquiries: Email me.

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Isaacson, W. Steve Jobs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), 63.