Don’t Underestimate the Name of Your AI Brand

Naming a brand or company has widely been viewed as a creative exercise in the past, but, in today’s global, digital, and AI marketplace, naming must now be elevated to a strategic endeavor.  While it may seem like AI is everywhere you turn, the AI industry is just getting started, but the opportunities are huge. In fact, the 50 companies on the 2023 Forbes AI 50 list 2023 list received a collective $27.2 billion in funding.

In the current crowded environment that is only going to get busier, getting the right name has never been more important. Below are Lexicon Branding’s essential rules for naming new AI technologies, products, and services. But first, a couple of don’ts to stay away from.

While you can easily make something “AI” by putting AI next to a name, that will be tired and outdated within the next year.

In addition, if the first thought is to use names like Leonardo, Da Vinci, or Tesla, that’s been done and over with too. In this case, humanizing a technology with an anthropomorphized name may make the technology seem friendly and approachable but can also be holding it back from its broader brand potential. Instead, look to these five essential rules for AI branding.

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Don’t Describe. Create the Space for Messaging to Do Its Job.

Effective brand names always have two “space-creating” qualities. First, effective names are thought-provoking. They help the audience imagine that there is something new, something that behaves differently or delivers something better.

Second, they offer a degree of relevance. This is tricky and sometimes misleading because when you read the word relevance, most people think about names that are descriptive or highly suggestive. While this is true in some cases, relevance can also be delivered in attitude or by association. Think Google. Think Apple. Think Sonos. These names are not descriptive, but they deliver relevant attitudes. And they allow all of us to think fast.

Being Unforgettable Not Just Memorable.

If you want to influence people’s choices (and you do) you must influence what they remember. Memorable names make it easier for consumers to buy your product.  How valuable is that?

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What is the best approach to creating a memorable name? The first step is to abandon the need for comfort.

Names like Google are memorable because they are completely unexpected and that comes with an element of risk. The second step is to understand that there is science behind memory. All of us remember what we can quickly grasp and what we can visualize. Mad Cow Disease is memorable. The actual medical description, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is not.

Develop Some Attitude.

Gatorade is a perfect example of a brand name that reflects this thinking. It uses one of Earth’s oldest predators to bring an entirely new idea and attitude to the market.  The name makes us think about what is in that bottle. On the other hand, the name Powerade is based on a product benefit and its suggestion is far more mundane. Today, 30 years after its launch, Gatorade is still the market leader.

Think Platform Over Product.

Never pick a name that describes or suggests one dimension. Rather pick the name that will act as a vessel carrying multiple ideas and associations into the marketplace. The most effective platforms work in three critical dimensions – they offer meaning, sound, and letter structure that support the ideas you want to deliver. For example, ReadyMop is a very one-dimensional name compared to P&G’s Swiffer, a platform brand worth a total of more than 4 billion dollars.

Give your customers room to imagine.

Truly effective names leave much to the imagination of the customer. Classic brands like RayBans and Ivory soap are far more imaginative than their original names (Antiglare sunglasses and White Soap), When we created and then tested the Swiffer brand for P&G, both moms and dads imagined an easier, more joyful cleaning experience before we told them anything about the product’s features or benefits.

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