Positive or negative: A polarizing brand name

A brand name is the figurehead of a company, for it is the first thing that the customer encounters. Because of this, it makes sense that a company would attribute a high level of significance to their brand name. A brand name should be attention-grabbing. Many businesses, however, are torn at this point: attract attention, yes, but not too much. Is it a positive or a negative to have a polarizing brand name?

Safety mentality vs. generating attention

Better not risk it, seems to be the motto more often than not. But a pronounced focus on safety ultimately leads to companies choosing names with no color. The consumer then equates a colorless, forgettable name with an equally forgettable product. The customer’s interest in the product and the company is virtually zero.

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Brands that lack any distinction fizzle on the market, because consumers are barely aware of them. Deciding on a striking, different brand name takes courage, because the potential for a good name doesn’t always reveal itself right off the bat. But a good name inspires curiosity, and things that are unusual or provoking are more likely to be intriguing. From a psychological perspective, people memorize provocative names better and faster.
A provocative name triggers stronger emotions; a mix of indignation - “how could they?!” - and respect - “that takes some guts!” If a name is on everyone’s lips, that means it’s going to be talked about everywhere, which ultimately increases awareness.

A provocative name as a deliberate marketing strategy

With that in mind, however, it doesn’t work if the brand name is just provocative and nothing else. The first impression can’t be the only thing that draws attention. The second step requires persuasive content. The Acne (Ambition to Create Novel Expressions) fashion brand evokes a skin disorder. At first glance, the brand name doesn't seem appropriate for a fashion label. After all, fashion is about being beautiful, wanting to be appealing. In spite of this, or maybe in fact because the name is so unusual for a fashion label, the Acne brand is extremely successful and popular. And ultimately that’s because of the products.
A provocative brand name can be a disadvantage if it only carries negative associations for observers and customers. It’s hard to get rid of a negative image if that’s the first impression of a company. A company that wants to be successful in the long term has to create a predominance of positive feelings towards their brand. Emotions have to be steered in a certain direction, and stir the consumer’s imagination. A successful brand name is exciting, vivid, and unique all at once. Choosing a provoking brand name is also a deliberate marketing strategy that addresses the exact demographic targeted by the company.

Conclusion: It’s definitely positive to have a polarizing brand name, because then it isn’t watered down and is more likely to attract attention. What do you think?

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