What’s in a Name? The Business Behind Naming Products and Companies
(Daily Finance) Vudu. JooJoo. Boorah. It almost seems as if companies are just randomly picking names for their latest product — or (gasp) the company — out of a hat. But consumers would be surprised at how much actual thought (and money) go into the process of dubbing a tobacco maker Altria or an instant coffee Via.
“It’s probably the most difficult thing that branding firms do,” says Hayes Roth, the chief marketing officer of Landor, which is responsible for renaming some of the country’s biggest companies. Landor came up with Altria (MO) as the new name for Philip Morris in 2003 when the company sought to improve its crumbling image and get across to customers that it sold more than just tobacco after it acquired Kraft Foods. Agilent (A), the measurement company spun off from Hewlett Packard (HPQ) in 1999, was also a Landor naming creation. “There are many, many hurdles now” to picking a name that will be both “defining and relevant,” says Roth.