The other day, my better half and I were brainstorming the next great social media app. You know, the one that would propel us from our employers’ payrolls like circus performers out of a cannon? We had the concept down — there was a social component, some cool location-based features, and a great swath of would-be users (we think, anyway). The conversation eventually turned to the obvious: what would we call it?
Two of Lexicon Branding’s creations for P&G. Don’t know about you, but “swifter” is now a verb in my household.
That was the hardest part of the little shared daydream of ours. All the ideas reeked of mediocrity. They were generic. Bland. All the makings of a battle before the folks at the USPTO for legal protection. Good thing I have my colleagues here at the law firm. But we wouldn’t just want trademark rights. We want that multimillion dollar payday! So we’d need more than a name. We’d need an identity — the kind that leads to icon status.
Enter the company that has helped turned so many brands into BRANDS — with a capital ‘B’ — the same ‘B’ in Billion. Billion dollar brand names don’t just appear out of thin air. Lexicon Branding, founded in 1982, has been helping companies come up with killer names — the likes of which we all know (and often love). BlackBerry®. Febreze®. Dasani®. Some have staying power (the latter), others don’t (the former)–but all bring in the bucks (or once did).
You’ve got to wonder whether some of these companies with the super-unique names just yank Scrabble® pieces out of a hat to come up with the monikers they do. Well they don’t — and the folks over at Fast Company have a great account of Lexicon’s process a few years ago of coming up with the name for the new Colgate® mini portable toothbrush. Before you click on that link — do you know what it’s called now that it’s been on the market for a few years (test that brand strength)?
Lexicon uses a nice little story on its website to illustrate the importance of branding — I removed the “brand name” so you can test yourselves:
While speaking at a small scientific conference in 1969, Cambridge physicist Sir Roger Penrose announced his discovery of what he called a “gravitationally completely collapsed object.”
The world yawned.
Months later, he changed the name of his discovery to  and the news of his discovery raced around the world.
Today, the term  is a part of the world’s working vocabulary.
I don’t think we’re ready to hire Lexicon Branding for our app just yet — but we may need them if we’re ever going to make it big.