the ceo magazine, branding
Alexandra Watkins, Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Eat My Words

During the past 15 years, as the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of a branding firm that specializes in creating names for new products, companies and services, I’m often asked how a name change impacts revenue.

While you can certainly measure sales before and after name change, full credit cannot generally be given to the new name alone because rebranding efforts generally involve a new visual identity, advertising, public relations, and social media.

However, on some occasions, we have found that sales are directly impacted by a name change alone. For example, on a restaurant menu, switching the name “Chicken Soup,” to “Grandma’s Chicken Soup,” will drive more purchases. Instinctively, it makes sense because the word “Grandma’s” makes a strong emotional connection. Connecting with consumers on an emotional level is a critical component to drive sales. This connection is often missing from brand names formed by Latin and linguistics.

In a recent Fast Company article, “8 Keys to Creating an Emotional Connection Between Products and People,” Sam Swisher and Trevor Shepard cite that 50 percent of every buying decision is driven by emotion. This shouldn’t surprise you. Think of how many times you have purchased a bottle of wine simply because the name made you smile. If you shop by the label as the majority of wine buyers do, it's hard to resist a love-at-first-sight name like Fat Bastard, 7 Deadly Zins, Layer Cake, Educated Guess, Little Black Dress, and Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush. That’s the power of a name that makes an emotional connection.

The boutique Hotel Vitale on San Francisco’s waterfront experienced a 25 percent jump in wedding business when we worked with it to change the descriptive, uninspired names of their wedding services to ones that were - pardon the pun - “emotionally engaging.”



Rehearsal Dinner

Meet the Parents

Co-ed Bridal Shower

Shower Together

Post-Reception Bar Rental

Last Call for Alcohol

Post-Wedding Brunch

Bloody Married

Guest Rate

Entourage Rate

Previously, a bride and groom planning a wedding may have skimmed over a name like “Post Reception Bar Rental,” but nothing says “party time” like "Last Call for Alcohol." That name makes an instant emotional connection because it’s fun, meaningful, and is loaded with imagery. And, suddenly, a co-ed bridal shower doesn’t sound so excruciating for the groom when it’s named “Shower Together.” All of these names bring levity to the stressful task of wedding planning, add value, and make everyone smile, including the parents footing the bill.

This example shows that there is an intrinsic power in “love at first sight” brand names. So, if you and your team are developing new names or rebranding current ones – whether or not you’re leveraging a full rebranding effort with your naming initiative – consider taking an emotional approach. It’s the most powerful way to drive connection and ultimately, impact your bottom line.

About the Author

Alexandra Watkins is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Eat My Words, a branding firm specializing in creating names that make people smile instead of scratch their heads. She is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, “Hello, My Name is Awesome: How To Create Brand Names That Stick,” which Inc. Magazine named a Top 10 Marketing Book of 2014.


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