We talk a lot about brand positioning and how important it is, so let’s define our terms. Simply put, brand positioning is the big-picture story that a company or product brand presents to the world and the unique tone and personality with which it does so.
Think of it like this: you’re not directly naming a brand, but rather the positioning of that brand. Any names under consideration must support this positioning in order to be successful.
Real world example: Virgin Atlantic Airways
Now, if the Virgin brand didn’t exist, and you were to present this name to a typical airline’s naming committee, they would likely offer many valid-sounding reasons why the name Virgin won’t fly: too edgy; says “we’re new at this,” which is the wrong message for an industry so dependent on security, trust and experience; people in Catholic countries we fly to will protest; etc.
In reality, however, people never deconstruct names based on negative dictionary definitions. This is because, once launched, brand names exist in context, supporting and being supported by their brand positioning. And the positioning for Virgin Atlantic is more along the lines of, “A fresh re-invention of the air travel experience.” And for that message, Virgin is the perfect name.
It’s easy to look to things like innovative products and services, glamorous destinations and charismatic crew in bright red uniforms as the reasons for our success. But these are just part of our story. The personality and language of our brand plays a major role too, and to get a grasp on why, it’s useful to look at our past.
When we first started flying in 1984, the world was changing rapidly. …The airline world hadn’t changed much at all and…what a dull, grey experience that was.
The time was right for someone to come in and shake things up. And did we ever.
In order to “shake up” the airline industry, they had to have a name that shook things up as well. For if their name was something like “Transatlantic Air,” why would anybody believe they were fundamentally any different than all those “dull, grey” airlines that came before? They wouldn’t, and red uniforms and catchy slogans alone wouldn’t be enough to convince travelers either.
The Zinzin Brand Positioning Brief
Everyone on a naming team should understand that all names under consideration must map to and reinforce the brand positioning. We present a Brand Positioning brief to our clients at the end of the first week of our process. This brief includes a variety of positioning concepts, along with 30 un-prescreened “proof of concept” names for discussion and name development purposes.
Any of these proof-of-concept names that we collectively determine as having potential for our client’s brand are then fully vetted during the Round 1 name development, and those that clear our prescreens are added to the 15 new names coming in Round 1.
Throughout the process, we refine the positioning to best reflect our discussions of the names presented in each round. That refined positioning then influences the next round of names developed, in an iterative fashion. This is why we believe strongly that naming and brand positioning are best developed in parallel, rather than sequentially.