Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Jewelry Central": A Good Brand Name?

Not.

Seth Godin rants on generic brand names that append a bland word ("central") to a descriptive word ("jewelry"):
Jewelry Central is a really bad brand name. So are Party Land, Computer World, Modem Village, House of Socks and Toupee Town.

It's a bad brand name because Central or Land or World are meaningless. They add absolutely no value to your story, they mean nothing and they are interchangeable. "Here honey, I bought you these cheap earrings at Diamond World!" Not only are they bland, but you can't even remember one over the other. This is the absolute last refuge of a marketer who has absolutely nothing to say and can't even find the guts to stand for what they do. It's just generic.
In the past, Godin has recommended names that yield very few Google search results. Such names are almost never descriptive or generic.

6 comments :

Julie said...

I think having Central in your brand name is a very powerful concept, because there are many successful companies out there that use central in their brand: Comedy Central, Money Central, Chef Central and Jewelry Central.

It creates a type of center for the type of product you are selling, and based upon how you build up the brand it can become a very successful brand name. All of the brand names I mentioned are all very well known.

These brand names are all easy to pronounce and remember. They associate the product with the brand name which makes them all very easy to market.

By properly building and promoting a central type of brand name, a company can capture a large segment of market share in their industry, which is what many of the companies I mentioned have done.

Roger L. Cauvin said...

Thanks for your comment, Julie.

Comedy Central is financially successful, but is it a successful brand?

Remember, a brand is a set of associations ingrained in the mind of the customer. "Comedy Central" is a description, not a brand. It is literal; there is no association.

"Comedy Central" will be in big trouble if a competitor enters the market and segments the TV comedy market. Then both "comedy" and "central" will be so generic as to be meaningless and undifferentiated in a competitive market.

"Search.com" or "Search Central" might be an excellent name for a search engine - until a Google enters the picture. Note that almost no one ever visits "search.com". And "Google" is arguably the most powerful brand name in the world.

elegantsem said...

So I must agree with Julie, Central is a very effective concept and in this case is being used properly. For example, Golf Central or Aquaria Central are very well known and successful web sites. Golf or Aquaria or Jewelry are just keywords, but with Central it sounds more powerful and appealing. I think that Comedy Central, or Jewelry Central are strong names. If somebody is looking for a hairpiece, Toupee Central will attract more attention than just Toupee.

Roger L. Cauvin said...

Great to have your comment, elegantsem.

You contend that adding "Central" to a generic keyword "sounds more powerful and appealing". You may be right.

Two things:

I think the point is not whether there is some marginal "punch" added by appending modifiers such as "Central". The point is that the generic, descriptive keyword to which you're adding it makes for a poor brand name. Instead of trying to jazz it up by appending another word, you're much better off choosing a main word thats not generic and descriptive.

Also, whether or not you, I, or even a customer think it "sounds more powerful and appealing" is irrelevant. What matters is the largely unconscious psychology that occurs in the mind of the consumer.

I would be willing to bet that the wave patterns in consumers' brains are very different for strong brands (e.g. Google and Apple) than for merely recognized brands (e.g. Comedy Central). Pointing to successful, recognized companies such as Comedy Central does not entail that the brand names are strong.

admaven said...

You guys are placing too much emphasis on the brand name itself. What's more important these days is not only what the brand name is, but what the company does with it, how strongly they promote it and how they position it in the marketplace.

A brand name that isn't descriptive needs more marketing to have it ingrained in the consumer's mind for that product. The advertising efforts for a non-generic brand must be twofold in its purpose so the customer 1. remembers the brand name and 2. associates it with the relevant product.

For a descriptive brand, as soon as the customer hears the brand, they know exactly what product is being advertised. The potential client must only remember it and voila, commercial successful.

Roger L. Cauvin said...

admaven, I agree that what the company does with a brand is more important than the name.

However, you state:

"A brand name that isn't descriptive needs more marketing to have it ingrained in the consumer's mind for that product."

It seems like common sense that descriptive names need less marketing. However, the science shows that common sense is wrong in this case.

Incongruency theory and conversational implicature trigger the human brain to expend more effort on, and to create associations with, a nondescriptive brand name than a descriptive one.

See the article referenced here:

http://cauvin.blogspot.com/2005/06/science-of-brand-names.html

You also state:

"For a descriptive brand, as soon as the customer hears the brand, they know exactly what product is being advertised."

Not exactly. They know the description of the product. But they have no reason to remember or prefer your product over another one that fits the same description.