Like many of you, I have been spending much of my time on Zoom these days. Now that so many of us are working from home, Zoom and other virtual tools have expectedly taken off. But why has Zoom become the seeming leader when so many other video conferencing tools were already well-established?
Zoom is doing many things right, but I also think theirs is an example of a perfect brand name. The word zoom means something is fast, but also in a fun and playful way. This suggests that the service is quick and easy to use. Zoom is also an example of onomatopoeia: the word sounds like what it means. This reinforces understanding and can make people want to say the word more often. It also happens to rhyme with “room” possibly suggesting the virtual rooms that are created when we use Zoom. Zoom reminds some of us of a children’s show that was fun and educational which is also relevant to how we use this service. And yet, Zoom is not so obvious and direct of a name. Names that are too obvious can seem boring, less distinct, and ultimately forgettable.
Thinking about Zoom and other great brand names, reminds me of how we approach naming research. Conducting research on brand names is not a likeability contest but a way to determine if your brand’s intended attributes are being delivered by your name. Overly obvious names can rise to the top if poor naming research is used, but they may not communicate what the brand is about, or they may be so obvious that they will be easily forgotten.
To research new potential brand names, we recommend a combination of open-ended questions and evaluating names against the intended brand attributes. Here is a typical flow for naming research.
- Learn about initial associations to see if they match the category and brand, determine if there are any negative associations with the word, determine if the name is similar to other brands in the category.
- Present names in plain font without any indication of category.
- Ask what comes to mind when they see this word or phrase.
- Determine fit with category, how well each delivers on the brand attributes, and differentiation.
- Introduce the category or brand with a written description, brand image, infographic, or collage.
- Describe that the names will be used for this brand/category. Show each brand name one at a time. At this point, names are typically shown in a wordmark so they are presented in a similar way to how they will be seen when launched.
- Ask how well the name fits this brand/category.
- Ask how well the name communicates “brand attribute.” Repeat for up to 10 brand attributes.
- Ask if the name reminds them of other brands. It may also be helpful to find out if their associations with the other brand is positive, neutral, or negative.
- Determine best fit with category, issues around pronunciation and comfort in saying the name.
- Show all brand names at once.
- Ask which best fits the brand/category.
- Ask which, if any, may be challenging to pronounce.
- Ask which of these would be easiest to fit into conversations with others.
- Establish audience profiling data to aid in analysis. This also puts some distance between the naming questions and the next section about memorability.
- Ask demographic or other relevant questions.
- Understand how well they remember the names and understand any additional associations.
- Ask them to list all the names they recall.
- Ask what else they would like to share about any of the names.
Naming brands is notoriously difficult. Following this research process can help ensure that your final brand name is compelling, meaningful, relevant, differentiating, and memorable.
As you go about your Zooming and other connecting these days, we wish you much health, wisdom, and strength to help shape a new and better tomorrow.