Brand naming

During the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve had a number of clients and prospects seeking our assistance as they attempt to cope in these times of rapidly changing business conditions and associated uncertainty. We’ve had clients asking us to rapidly deploy right sized market research studies, assist them to pivot their brand into a different market adjacency with greater growth prospects, or to simply and rapidly activate a marketing and content plan as they seek to grow sales. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and requests from our e-books on our website too, which are available for free at any time here.

Given the success of the proposals we’ve created and the number of requests being received, we’ve decided to create a number of fixed price, productised solutions that address the challenges of brand right now:

1. Market research: In this post Covid world, research is critical for clients seeking to understand their market, what’s important to their customers and how they and their competitors are performing against these drivers. Asking simply, "How am I performing against what’s important to my clients?"

2. Brand Architecture: This market research often informs a key packaged solution in relation to brand architecture and brand stretch too. This relates to a business looking to pivot its business and brand towards a more lucrative Covid market. The question we’re being asked is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far?" Organisations need greater certainty around risk levels of brand stretch into new markets. "Can I take my existing brand in, or would I be better creating a sub brand or perhaps an endorsed brand?"

3. Brand Positioning: With architecture confirmed and resolved, clients are also seeking assistance on how to reposition or re-fresh their brand in this new market context as well. Asking "How can I be clear, unique, relevant and compelling?"

4. Marketing activation: This packaged solution is the most pragmatic for clients and prospects experiencing a downturn in sales demand. This marketing and activation plan is a succinct set of workshops to get their marketing activated and their content created, in an accountable way.

The benefits of each of these solutions are specifically geared to deliver answers quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. They can be executed independently or in unison. Each of the productised solutions we are developing contain a clear, simple and accountable series of benefits and deliverables, within a defined fixed cost and time frame.

Stay tuned as we communicate further on these cost effective, yet flexibly tailored productised solutions. If you are looking to move more quickly, you can reach out to us directly here or contact Paul Nelson on either 02 99547900 or 0413 028766.

See also our blog on 6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis

Wednesday, 08 April 2020 15:25

Changing the paradigm in financial planning and advisory.

Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:47

Alphabet has taken over Google - but does this new structure mean people will stop 'googling' and start 'alphabetting?' Paul Nelson argues on Mumbrella that this change is more than skin deep. Read the full article on Mumbrella here.

Despite the omnipresence of the Google brand we argue the recent logo change is at best peripheral compared to the changes made at a brand architecture level.

The revised organisation of its brands and its creation of Alphabet means Google escapes the constant market and investor scrutiny and is freed up to focus on what it does best.

This is the main game – the logo change is really summed up improving scalability and readability on digital devices – and after 16 years it was due for a refresh.

Over the past few weeks, there has been considerable commentary in the press about the change of structure at Google, and its adoption of Alphabet as a name for the new parent.

The transition within Google – Alphabet – culminated in Tuesday night’s launch of the new Google logo. Prior to the logo launch, much of the commentary had surrounded the choice of the name ‘Alphabet’, and the fact that the name was not universally well-received and not available as a clear URL. Again, this is peripheral in our view.

What some of the commentators were overlooking is that this shift to Alphabet is about something far more significant than simply choosing a new name that either is either popular or not.

The move to Alphabet signals a fundamental shift in the way Google – or rather, Alphabet – has chosen to structure its organisation and its brand architecture, in order to prepare for future acquisitions and expansion into new markets.

Alphabet Google org structure
Yesterday, with the launch of the new Google logo, people were back to talking about Google. Do we like the San Serif font? Do we dislike the San Serif font? Have they moved far enough? Have they moved too far?

But in a sense this is not that material, any more than it matters that the Alphabet URL isn’t clear and available. What matters is that under the new Alphabet brand architecture, Google now has ‘permission’ to change its logo, to change its corporate identity and to highlight its focus on sourcing and sorting information, without impacting the broader scope of Alphabet’s interests.

The creation of Alphabet has enabled Google to operate in the sphere which it knows best – to be single-minded – without limiting the broader business’ growth trajectory.

Under this new architecture, Google will retain search, YouTube and most of the biggest divisions while smaller operations such as Nest home appliances, life sciences, drone deliveries and venture capital investments will operate as individual companies.

Alphabet is essentially a corporate holding company and never consumer facing – consumers won’t start ‘Alphabetting’ any time soon.
Google’s co-founder Larry Page has long been keen to explore new areas for growth and less interested in creating incremental improvements to Gmail. He’s made no secret of wanting to explore transportation, connectivity and life itself.

Over the years many business analysts have enquired as to the relevance of these new acquisitions and how they align to Google’s mission, now Page can honestly and confidently answer, ‘they don’t’.

Friday, 19 June 2015 16:18

Background and approach

In June 2014, BrandMatters’ long term client Wesfarmers Insurance sold its insurance broking and premium funding businesses to Arthur J Gallagher and as a result, Lumley Finance needed to rebrand itself so that it no longer used the Lumley name and crest. Lumley Finance was a leading premium funder that partners with insurance brokers to deliver premium funding to businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

BrandMatters was appointed to develop a new name for Lumley Finance. The name needed to align to its recently developed brand positioning. The brief also included the development of a new logo and visual identity; and the production of all launch collateral.

BrandMatters commenced the project with comprehensive desk research and a series of depth interviews with senior executives. This research was used to develop a detailed naming brief to inform the development of the new name.

BrandMatters used a name storming process to build a shortlist of names for the new brand, and then conducted preliminary searches to confirm the names were available for trademarking in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

The name Elantis was chosen because of its dual meaning: Elan, French for energy, style and enthusiasm, and Ilan, Hebrew for oak tree. The new name aligned with the organisation’s vision for its culture and future strategic direction.

BrandMatters used the new name to develop three logo and look and feel options. The chosen logo and look and feel was then rolled out across a suite of collateral and launch materials including corporate stationery, a new website, brand video, eDMs, brochureware, merchandise, info graphics, desktop wallpapers and screensavers and more.



A comprehensive set of brand guidelines were also created for use and interpretation by employees and marketing suppliers in Australia and New Zealand.


The new Elantis brand was launched internally and externally in July 2014 via a series of events across Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to client and industry launch events, BrandMatters partnered with Elantis to develop a comprehensive collection of internal launch collateral to encourage employees to embrace the new brand. The launch collateral included uniforms, an employee brand wheel, branded gifts, business cards and pre-loaded computer desktop wallpapers and screensavers. The collateral was delivered via a desk drop to employees on the day of the launch. The desk drop was in addition to an internal launch event featuring branded balloons, branded cupcakes and banners celebrating the new brand.

Elantis PremiumFunding 658x300px 72dpi RGB 5


The launch received positive feedback from Elantis clients and industry media, and was embraced with enthusiasm internally.

BrandMatters continues to partner with Elantis on new initiatives moving forward.



Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:08

When FleetPartners announced plans for an IPO, it set a target of raising $253 million for the float. As an additional challenge, the listed entity was the new corporate figurehead bringing together a group of previously separate brands, including FleetPartners, Fleet Plus, Fleet Choice, Auto Select, and a new commercial equipment financing business.

One of the biggest challenges for the new entity was to make sense of the newly formed group of companies, and then to build a brand positioning and brand story that would help communicate its intent to the investor target audience.

BrandMatters commenced a fast tracked and challenging program of desk research and 19 depth interviews with senior executives and board members, leading to the development of a distinctive and powerful brand positioning. Once the brand positioning was approved, brand naming and logo and identity development commenced.

The Eclipx Group name was embraced enthusiastically internally, and the energy and passion inherent in the brand and name were then translated across to a new logo and look and feel. The Eclipx name was chosen because it carried the brands business intention – to disrupt the market and to eclipse the competition. It was also short, sharp, easily pronounceable, and the use of the X captured energy and a sense of forward movement so prevalent within the organisation.

BrandMatters worked with Eclipx Group on the roll-out and launch of the brand, including brand story and key message development, corporate stationery, a website, the IPO website, banners, event invitations, and a visually striking brand presentation used at the launch event.

Eclipx Group listed on the ASX on 22 April 2015, and shares rose 20% on its first day of trade. BrandMatters continues to work with Eclipx Group as it builds its brand both internally and externally, and establishes its equipment financing business, Eclipx Commercial.


There comes a pivotal point for every company where there’s need for change. Change itself is concept people can be resistant to. It represents disruption, a challenge to the status quo and a future that may be unable to be predicted. Online file sharing service YouSendIt has recently renamed itself Hightail. The new name and new brand coincides with a significant strategic shift towards a broader service offer and growth strategy. The rebrand, while appearing to be strategically sound, has been met with resistance from long-term customers taken by surprise by the change.

YouSendIt was established in 2004. It was a web-based solution to transferring files too larger to email. Its naming strategy was very straight forward. YouSendIt was a descriptive name – in other words, its name ‘did what it said on the tin’.

Today the organisation wishes to offer more. According to their website, the company now aspires to be a service people access to store files, share folders and sign documents – via PC, smartphone or tablet. The challenge it faced was that its aspirations for where it wants to go as a company had grown well beyond just sending large files via the internet. It needed to rebrand, and not only for where the company’s ambitions were heading immediately, but for the potential ongoing evolution of the company’s core function.

As part of its rebrand, YouSendIt announced it was changing its name to Hightail. The new name symbolises its new brand strategic direction. The following video shows Hightail’s Chief Production Manager discussing the strategic objectives behind Hightail’s rebrand and rename.

According to Hightail’s brand partner, Siegel + Gale, Hightail suggests the ideas of speed, energy, motion, accomplishment, satisfaction and fun. By dictionary definition Hightail means ‘to go as fast as possible, especially in fleeing.’ From a naming perspective, the new name moves away from ‘does what it says on the tin’.  Hightail is considered an associative name, meaning it brings attributes or benefits together. It is also slightly abstract, in the sense that it is non-descriptive when compared to the old simple name. Hightail wanted to be distinctive from other cloud-sharing competitors such as DropBox, who tend to be fairly descriptive. The word ‘Hightail’ adds a sense of uniqueness and complements the new brand story. According to Siegel + Gale, using Hightail creates a sense of empowerment and reflects the passion that their customers have for their work.

Ultimately customers are the main indicators of the success of a new name. Among loyal customers there is often feeling and emotion attached to a brand. There is always a risk that change can be emotionally charged, and early feedback suggests that YouSendIt customers aren’t overly happy with the shift. There has been a big uproar to the new name via blogs, Facebook and even on the official site forum itself. The consistent feedback is that people enjoyed the descriptive meaning of the old name and the movement associated with the old paper aeroplane logo. Feedback also focussed on the negative connotations associated with the definition of ‘Hightail’, such as retreat, fear and escape. One of the specific challenges Hightail is facing is that at the same time it launched its new brand, it also launched a new suite of services, and some pricing changes. According to some of the customer feedback, there have been multiple technical glitches with the new software, and difficulty accessing technical support. These negative experiences are now associated with the new name and look and feel. Some customers are threatening to simply walk away to the likes of competitor, DropBox.

Technical difficulties aside, what customers revealed they are most hurt about is the lack of communication on the news of the rebrand. Hightail did send out a communication to each of their subscribers, however it was only sent to the email address associated with the account. In a large office, that email could easily have been received by a generic address, reception or even accounts, and not received by the employees who use Hightail daily. This highlights the importance of taking your customers and stakeholders with you on the rebranding journey. By communicating regularly, customers feel included and valued. They are less likely to be caught unaware by the new brand or name, and more likely to accept the new brand in both the short term and long term.

Although the new logo maybe scrutinised, it emphasises the fresh, modern look Hightail wishes to reflect. Yousendit has the delight of simplicity but was too defining and hence restrictive as a brand; while Hightail allows for plenty of opportunities to grow. The new name can be questioned, but the business concept is sound - the ability to share quick, meaningful, personal messages in an instant. Even if customers have original misgivings about the name, once they understand the reasons and meaning behind Hightail they’ll see it works. Ultimately, the use of the video to launch the brand really captures the tactical and strategic advance the new brand offers, and emotionally tells the Hightail’s story. And that’s why it’s time to say hi to Hightail.

This blog was written by BrandMatters intern Amy Elstow. Amy is currently studying marketing at the University of Lincoln in the UK. 


Friday, 04 March 2011 19:51

Trademarks, especially when used as the primary logo, are usually one of the most distinctive visual cues for a brand. A trademark's essential function is to distinguish goods or services of one company from another. A trademark must therefore be of distinctive character and can't just be descriptive of the goods or services sold. A mark can be inherently distinctive, or it may, through use, acquire a distinctive character, initially lacking, and thus be registered as a trademark.

The Australian Government's IP Department defines a trademark as

  • A trade mark can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, aspect of packaging or any combination of these.
  • It is used to distinguish goods and services of one trade from those of another. This means you can't register a trade mark that directly describes your goods (e.g. radios) and services (e.g. electrician).
  • While it is difficult to register a geographic name or surname, someone who has used one extensively in the marketplace for a considerable period of time may be able to achieve registration.

But what constitutes a distinguishing mark isn't always so cut and dry. Consider the ongoing trademark dispute between Australian wine company Casella Wines and US based The Wine Group. Casella own the export brand Yellow Tail, who use a wallaby as their logo on their wine labels, while The Wine Group use a kangaroo on their label Little Roo.

How Distinguishable are Kangaroos and Wallabys?

Casella argue that to US consumers, the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo are nil. They're just two interchangeable Australian marsupials. They accuse The Wine Group of "piggy backing" on their brand, launching with a label that is uncannily close to Little Roo.

Casella Wines managing director John Casella is quoted as saying, "There are probably three or four thousand Australian animals out there and they had to pick the kangaroo."

On their side, The Wine Group are adamant that a wallaby and a kangaroo are entirely separate animals who's usage won't confuse north American consumers.
Casella argues that Casella is doing well in the US, and that having the brand equity they do is helping them compete with Little Roo. But he asserts that piggybacking won't succeed for Little Roo in the long term. "You can build sales that way, but you cannot build brands."

Brands Going International

Registering a trademark gives you exclusive legal right to use it (and license or sell) within the country for the goods and services for which it is registered. However this case highlights some of the issues that can be raised when brands enter international markets. Some brand names and logo marks are culturally specific, and don't always translate as well in the context of other markets.

Focus on Brand Equity

While Australians may easily differentiate between a kangaroo and a wallaby, American consumers may not be able to. These problems are not always easily anticipated, so the best advice here is to undertake exhaustive international research into logos, trademarks, and brand names on an international scale from the outset. But perhaps more importantly, focus on your brand equity. While distinguishing animals may be challenging, an instantly recognisable brand name will be easily recognised in a crowded market, and will have the strength to ride out rough moments - even if a change of logo mark is required.


Friday, 04 February 2011 18:18

When Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer announced why he liked the name Bing for their new search engine, he said the name "works globally" and could potentially "verb up."

He was anticipating a moment when people would bing an address, or bing a restaurant.

There was a time when companies like Microsoft would have gone to any length to stop people using their brand name in such a casual manner. Businesses loathed their brands becoming verbs because they feared the loss of their individual identity.

The Example of Xerox

A classic example is Xerox. Xerox has been adamant in urging consumers to photocopy documents rather than xerox them. Their concern was that if "to xerox something" became the default way of saying "to photocopy something" then the verb would define what Xerox's company does, rather than who Xerox is. If this were to happen, the company's differentiation in the market place would be lost amongst its competitors.

That is one reason why companies sought trademarks: by controlling their brand name, businesses wanted to prevent the moment when their brand name grew so popular that it defined all similar products. That would have led to genericide.

But things are seen differently today. Marketing experience has clearly shown it as a very good thing when people start "verbing up" with your name. The internet has speeded up the way reputations are made and destroyed. And it's now seen as advantageous to get market share when you can and worry about the details later, when the brand name has entered the vernacular and possibly made the brand less distinctive. Having a brand name that is foremost in consumers minds, even at the possibility of genericide is a risk many businesses would be delighted to take.

Everybody's "Tweeting"

While Bing would love to replace googleing with binging, a company on the other side of the momentum is Twitter. In recent years "to tweet" - sending a message on twitter - has become a verb, and Twitter moved to trademark the term in 2009.

Twitter treaded carefully here. They announced that the company would not seek legal injunctions against those using the term for third party Twitter-related services and applications. However, speaking in a manner typical for companies who are quickly verbing up, they warned that they would take action in the event of a "confusing or damaging project " to protect both users and our brand." It appears that Twitter is not worried about the term 'tweet' becoming too popular, rather they are trying to exert some control over what is a desirable company, product or service for them to be associated with. Ultimately controlling who can use the terms Twitter and Tweet will allow Twitter to confer a level of exclusivity to some. This control is sort of like one step down from a patent.

Staying in Control of Brand Verbing

Steps can be taken to allow and encourage the use of verbing, whilst preventing - to some extent - the risk of genericide. These include :

   1. Make clear to consumers that the action suggested by the brandverb (eg "Googling") cannot be made without using the branded product or service (eg Google).

   2. Build the verbed brand into taglines, slogans, and/or logos to reinforce the above point (eg "Googling is Impossible Without Google")

   3. Register the form of the brand name being used as a brandverb.

   4. Incorporating appropriate usage into brand guidelines.


Thursday, 06 October 2011 18:11

One of the first things any new business requires is a name. Many start ups approach us at this early stage for branding assistance, often in the belief that arriving at a name is a relatively easy process. As anyone who's been involved in the naming process can tell you, it can be a drawn out process.

And needless to say, it's a decision the company will probably live with for its entire duration. It will be one of the most essential elements of the company's identity, appearing on business cards, letterhead, website, promotional materials, products, and pretty much everywhere in print and multimedia wherever your company's and it's services or products are mentioned.

Many businesses fall into the trap of creating a name using descriptive words. Usually these names are effective in describing what they do, but don't act as the distinguishing start point on which to build their own brand story. In any market category, the first company can get away with this. Hence your General Motors or General Electric. But once there's competition in that space, differentiation s quickly needed. Particularly now when online media places us all in a global context, it's vital to carve out your niche and find a unique identity.

Indeed insightful naming is tough!

But if a business can internally find a name that desires their intent, and summarises their story and what makes them different, that's a huge and cost effective achievement. If you need to bring in the heavies then we have a raft of resources that can aid the naming process.

A Few Tips When Naming

Look to differentiate and distinguish - rather than describe
The easiest and most obvious thing to do is describe your company in your name. Avoid the temptation and push the boundaries. You need to future proof your name so it describes your uniqueness as a brand, and begins to reveal your brand story.

It's about strategy, not personal preferences
Naming is such an emotionally charged decision - any parent will agree. In business it's no different, except that business naming decisions are fraught with politics, turf issues, position power and individual preferences. Stick to the strategy and do not allow the lowest common denominator solution.

Watch out for the obvious and the comfortable
The most successful names over the long-term are often those that are initially the most controversial (think Google, Yahoo!, and Ikea). When you select a name, you are looking for something to punch through the marketplace clutter, not add to it. Overtly literal meanings can sometimes limit growth and show a lack of company creativity.

Keep it brief
One word brands are most effective. Lengthy, multiple word names lead to truncation. When people abbreviate your name, you lose control over your brand.

Company or Corporate brands belong in the Boardroom
Names are too important to be (just) left to marketing. But at the earliest stages brand names are very fragile and the naming is a highly emotional and political decision. So engage the most senior personnel from the outset, keep them engaged and build a strong rationale for your shortlisted set and have a clear recommendation.

Avoid long names that will frequently be shortened to acronyms
Simply consider the Australian financial services industry. The long names in the industry have become AMP, MLC, QBE etc. Short (real or invented) words are many times easier for consumers to remember.

Employee contests struggle
While they are often well-meaning, they frequently do not result in names that are based on the appropriate strategic rationale. They tend to be very typical, familiar, unmemorable and unavailable - particularly the URL.

Manage confidentiality
It is very difficult to keep a new name a secret, but nonetheless critically important. At the beginning of the naming process, prepare your press release and press kit in the event of a leak. And lock down your legals, trademark and URL's early and in confidence.

Don't expect unanimous agreement
In the first few weeks following introduction, there is often a lot of discussion and publicity about a new name. Not everyone will love it, but familiarity breeds content. As people become more familiar with the name, they will become more comfortable with it.

Final Suggestion

Until you have arrived at your new name, we recommend using a placeholder name like New Co. After legal clearances have been made, do a global search and then replace - once and only once. When you've cracked the naming, the next stage is logo development and creation of a look and feel, a corporate profile, power point templates et al as necessary.


Monday, 01 February 2010 20:02

While people are either awed by Apple's iPad, or sniggering at the name's association with feminine hygiene products, brand experts are looking at the product in their terms.

According to Ira Kalb, associate director of the Center for Global Innovation at the University of Southern California's business school, iPad is close to perfect. Other names which had been short listed - iTab, iSlate and iTablet - didn't make the cut for good reason. iTablet has too many syllables; iSlate is too ancient sounding; while iTab is confusing.

The iPad is entirely consistent with the way Apple has branded many of their most popular products: you know its an Apple product by the lower case "i.â" That's a very effective and simple naming tool.

And what about the logo? There really isn't one. Nor is there one for the iPod. With a brand this strong, perhaps you don't need a logo.


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