*Spokesaliens!! Comment from yours truly in today’s National Post: http://alturl.com/o8n8f (at end of story)*
[Cache – #31]
This morning I’m flying Porter, so airlines are on the mind. Have a quick glance at this list of airline names. Which ones stand out to you?
Aerosvit Ukrainian Airlines
Air New Zealand
All Nippon Airways
British Midland Int’l
For my money, it’s the short ones, like Avianca, Delta and El Al. And like Porter. One could further argue that Porter is a great name for its derivation from “porter,” one who ferries your bags back and forth – fitting for an airline whose business model is fundamentally about short hauls. But most people will never make that connection – something brands should keep in mind when they think they have a brilliantly meaningful name that alas, is long. What they really should be aiming for is a brilliantly meaningful name that is short. Or just plain short.
Think of almost any well-known brand name, and it will be brief – two or three syllables at most. As on my list of 2010’s best new names:
If the brand name you’re thinking of is longer than three syllables, chances are good that it’s been shortened either organically by customers or deliberately by the brand itself. Federal Express became FedEx, for example. United Parcel Service became UPS.
The threshold at which shortening kicks in seems to be four syllables. People say “LA” because Los Angeles is four syllables – but because New York is only two, they do not say “NY” (but they do shorten New York City [four syllables] to NYC).
What does it all mean? Pick a short name for your brand, or people will shorten it for you. Then you lose the meaning that you worked so hard to convey. It’s like creating a TV commercial and then stripping out the images.
And don’t be distracted by the mega-brands out there – UPS, FedEx, GM, GE, HP – who have initialized names. Their names were shortened only after decades of hard work to build awareness.
A certain book puts it best: “Initial names are successful when earned, not created.”