Choose your brand well...or others will choose it for you.
On a recent trip to New Zealand we visited the capital, Wellington, driving into the city along the waterfront and passing the sports stadium I had worked at years ago when I was brand manager for AXA and ran the World Rugby Sevens tournament there.
This towering, circular stadium, made of corrugated steel, is a few years old now, but when it was built there was fiery public debate about where it would be located. As it turned out, the council made the right decision and built it smack bang in the transport hub of the city, a few steps from the train station and on major bus routes, within walking distance from bars and restaurants.
Of course there is parking there and limos and taxis have their own special entrance for drop-off or collection, but it’s so easy to get there most patrons use public transport and include a stop at the pub for a swift cold beer or three before the big game or music concert.
So far so good.
In order to afford the goal of a world class arena, the council sold naming rights sponsorship to a major bank and the venue was originally called the Westpac Stadium. Locals simply called it “the stadium”.
Not a great brand name.
Yes it explained exactly what it was, but really had no emotional connection.
Yes it described what it was for, but didn’t allow the target audience to own it as a paragon of an icon for the city.
The real trouble came when a sports commentator from Auckland, the largest city in the country and one largely disliked by the rest of the country, called the stadium, “The Cake Tin”.
So that was it. The name stuck!
Local radio in Wellington tried to create a movement to change the name to something more masculine, a name the locals could own and be proud of. One suggestion was “The Tank”, a word with double meaning based on the arenas appearance as a water tank and a vehicle of warfare.
But it was too late. The Cake Tin became the usual vernacular.
Just goes to prove that choosing a descriptive brand name isn’t always the right way to go.
Choose a name that means something to you and will resonate with your audience.
Yes you might like a name that explains what you do, but it’s really not necessary.
The only baking that goes on in the stadium is if you sit on the sunny seats during a summer cricket match. But it’s the name that has stuck, and even some locals are starting to relax about it.
The brand Westpac Stadium is still emblazoned on it’s side, but the Cake Tin will be forever called something most Wellingtonians remain embarrassed by. If only someone had developed a better name right from the start.
Make sure when you choose a brand name it’s exactly what you want it to be so others don’t start calling you something you don’t want.
And don’t panic about having a descriptive brand name either.
If I drew a big tick on a piece of paper and wrote “just do it” underneath, would that mean anything to you other than one of the largest sporting apparel companies on the planet.
Choose a name that means something to you, that it resonates with your audience and do it before someone else does it for you.
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