What makes a brand “cool”?

Aston Martin: the coolest brand in Britain 2010Britain’s Observer magazine had an interesting supplement this weekend: a list of Britain’s coolest brands. The research body Superbrands commissions an independent survey of experts and consumers to produce a yearly barometer of the coolest brands, people and places in the UK. You’ll find out more about it on their website.

Car manufacturer Aston Martin (photo) came out tops. But I’d like to fast-forward to a thought that struck me.

A look at the top 20 brands reveals a few interesting nuggets. No less than 9 are the names of people: Aston Martin, Bang & Olufsen, Harley-Davidson, Ferrari, Dom Pérignon, Viviane Westwood, Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo. There are three “I” names: iPhone, iPod and BBC’s iPlayer (I’m sure Apple are kicking themselves for not trademarking that one!). Four are descriptive: iPhone, iPlayer, Mini and, arguably, YouTube. And lastly, only one acronym is in there, and even that is part of a fuller name, BBC iPlayer. It’s also worth noting that only one of the makey-uppy names that are so fashionable these days makes it into the top 20: Google.

Choose your brand name carefully

If you’re launching a consumer product, I can only repeat how careful you should be in finding a name that has legs – one that will be able to walk tall. The Superbrand review is not a scientific analysis of branding. And there is also more to branding than the name; don’t forget superior products, great positioning and a marketing budget! But it certainly provides a little food for thought if you’re thinking of launching a new brand.

The “cool” factor is not the only one to bear in mind (RyanAir does not need it to be successful, for example). But the results do echo The Write Stuff’s experience using our naming methodology. The names that survive the process are names that enable marketers to build on the connotations and emotions that are relevant to their audiences – and this is as valid for paint as it is for a petrochemical product.

More about product naming and research