What's in a name?

January 13, 2012

As evidenced by world famous brands or kids names, brands and names become the logical extension of strategic thinking. A CEO’s vision for the company, its products and its services will color his/her choices for a company name and how that brand best reflects that vision. What you are really trying to do is tell the world how to experience you and how to think about you.

We know that a company’s name, or the name of an individual in many ways contributes to a brand’s success. Starbucks, Google and TOMS are perfect examples. And now, there is always monumental public interest in what stars and celebrities choose as names.

With the birth of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby, and the announcement of the name “Blue Ivy”, the world recognizes a distinction in baby names — a new culture is being formed.

Rap royalty is obviously in a class by itself. Therefore one would expect that the parents have greater latitude in deciding the name of their baby. In this, Blue Ivy is the choice. I like it; it’s short, it’s sweet, it flows, it’s easy to say, pronounce and spell. We have also learned that it has special meaning to the parents, which becomes the most important factor when considering a new name. Blue for Jay-Z’s three The Blueprint albums and Ivy for the number four (IV), which is a significant day in both Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s lives.

While choosing a baby name is substantively different from renaming a company, there are some similar guidelines that both should follow. From a branding and business perspective, we instruct our clients to:

1. Take the competitive set into consideration. A new name is the perfect combination of differentiation while still remaining similar and relevant to the competition.

2. Analyze the strategy behind what is being communicated. A new name has meaning and mystery behind it. Ensuring both these things don’t get lost or confused is no easy task.

3. Empower the brand by exemplifying it. When you want to call attention to yourself, your product, your service it must be intensely noticeable, visible and it must resonate with the consumer.

The name Blue Ivy, with its multiple but all-obvious meanings is exactly that, a blend of a wildly imaginative and creative celebrity name and one that still has deep personal meaning. There is no mistaking the meaning and importance behind Blue Ivy. Not surprisingly, Jay-Z and Beyoncé got it right.

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