We talk a lot about brand positioning and how important it is, so let’s define our terms. Simply put, the positioning of a brand is the set of core messages the brand demonstrates to the world, through tone, personality, emotion and narrative. So a better way to think about your task is in these terms: you are not naming a company or product – you are instead naming the positioning of a company or product. Once you determine the brand positioning, only consider names that map strongly to that positioning. In fact, any names you consider must support the brand positioning in order to be successful.
Case in point: Virgin Airways. Now, if Virgin didn’t exist, and you were to present this name to an airline naming committee, they would likely offer many valid-sounding reasons why this name can’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. But the truth is that, when a name is in context and supports and is in turn supported by a cogent brand positioning, then people will never deconstruct the name into constituent negative parts. And the brand positioning for Virgin Airways is more along the lines of, “this is a fresh new way to travel / we’re re-inventing the air travel experience.” And for that message, Virgin is the perfect name.