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Why Traditional Brand Naming is Dead: How To Make a Good Brand Name in the AI & Globalization Age

Overview of Traditional Brand Naming

 

Brand Naming in the Age of Isolation:

The practice of brand naming has focused on achieving simplicity and a direct correlation to the product or service in question. This strategy facilitates easier advertising and marketing campaigns while enhancing the brand’s memorability.

At the onset of branding during the Industrial Age, all a branded business had to do was be straightforward and directly associate the brand name with the owner, the service, or the product offering. Think “Pete’s Diner” or “Larry’s Plumbing.”

This approach made sense when markets were localized and business competition was relatively limited. Consumers faced fewer choices, so decision-making was less complicated. The older model of branding worked well when the challenges were mostly confined to regional competition and localized consumer behavior.

 

Adaptive Naming: A Non-negotiable in the AI & Globalization Era

But, this archaic approach is no longer sustainable, let alone advantageous, in the age of AI and globalization. What was once a ‘localized playing field’ has now expanded into a ‘global arena,’ enhanced by machine learning and data analytics that can dissect consumer behavior in real-time.

Brand names must be not only linguistically versatile but also agile enough to adapt to fluctuating market dynamics, socio-political minefields, and emerging technologies…or be forced out of business, for failing to adapt. Or worse, they simply ‘get cancelled’ because they made the wrong socio-political move.

Unlike the past, companies now grapple with an overwhelming number of competitors. Meanwhile, consumers thirst for value distinction because they are overwhelmed by countless choices, all promising the same benefits. This makes a brand name’s role more pivotal than ever before.

 

Traditional Brand Naming With a Future-Proofing Strategy

The experiences of Kodak and Coca-Cola reveal the limitations of traditional brand naming strategies that don’t account for evolving markets and social norms, and show the necessity for future-proofing your branding.

Even long-standing brand names can become liabilities if they don’t adapt to changes in societal values and awareness. A brand name created in the an AI-Globalized market and environment, must be both flexible and attuned to current and future market and social dynamics.

 

Failed Future-Proofing: Kodak and Coca-Cola

Take Kodak, for example, Kodak’s founder, George Eastman, chose a neutral name that was not linked to any specific product or technology, intending to provide the brand with the flexibility to enter different markets. Despite this foresight, Kodak failed to adapt when digital cameras and smartphones revolutionized the industry. This failure initially impacted Kodak’s product lineup and eventually made the brand itself appear outdated.

Another example, Coca-Cola faced a challenge when its original name, associated with coca leaves and cocaine, came into conflict with shifting societal attitudes. To maintain its brand, Coca-Cola had to remove the psychoactive substance from its iconic formula while retaining the familiar flavor.

The Kodak and Coca-Cola should serve as cautionary tales, showing that brand names should be applicable to the sensibilities of the owner and the product/service, but also must be adaptable to future market and social conditions.

 

Context For Future-Proofing Your Brand Name

A future-proofed brand can quickly devolve your foundation into quicksand, if you don’t keep pace with relentless shifting societal norms and emerging technologies.

The new age demands that brand names be fluid, adaptable, and transparent, as well as guided by data analytics and responsive to ethical and cultural paradigms. Brand adaption in the global marketplace is increasingly dictated by AI gatekeepers and how their algorithms are pushing your products, services, and messages to the consumer, and those digital gatekeepers have the unmitigated power to make or break a brand overnight.

 

AI’s Transformative Impact on Branding

 

Digital Gatekeepers Is The Death of Old Brand Naming: AI-Focused Rebranding

The limitations of conventional naming strategies are becoming glaringly apparent as we plunge deeper into an era defined by technology and globalization. Previously, traditional naming methods prized neutrality and broad market applicability, but those days are over. We’re now in a period where such static approaches fall short, and this necessitates an overhaul of how we think about branding. It’s here that artificial intelligence (AI) becomes indispensable, dramatically changing the landscape and redefining what constitutes an effective brand name.

 

AI-Driven Algorithms: The Bedrock for Modern Consumer Encounters

The ubiquity of AI in platforms, exemplified by systems like YouTube’s recommendation algorithms, dictates a shift in naming strategies. The name of a brand must now be tailored not just for human perception but also for machine algorithms that shape consumer interactions. Being easily pronounceable or historically significant no longer cuts it; the name must also be optimized for AI to maximize its reach and impact.

 

AI Personalization: A Game-Changer in How Names Resonate

AI’s capabilities extend far beyond mere recommendations; they tailor experiences to individual consumers based on intricate behavioral analysis. Gone are the days when a name only had to be memorable or easy to spell. Now, machine learning algorithms evaluate a multitude of variables when determining what will capture a consumer’s attention, requiring brand names to be adaptive and multifaceted to thrive in this new digital environment.

 

AI-Based Analytics: A New Requirement for Brand Name Resilience

Branding now must also pass through the gauntlet of algorithmic evaluation, epitomized by tools like Salesforce’s Einstein, which can scrutinize billions of data points within short timeframes. This level of algorithmic analysis necessitates that a brand name extend its utility beyond traditional metrics. Now it must also be optimized for factors like SEO rankings, social media traction, and e-commerce searchability.

In conclusion, the old paradigms of brand naming are ill-suited for the age of AI and globalization. The future is in names that can evolve and adapt to both human psychology and complex machine algorithms. Companies that do not consider these factors in their branding strategies are setting themselves up for obsolescence, underscoring the urgency for modernized, AI-centric approaches. This underlines the thesis ‘Why Traditional Brand Naming is Dead – How To Make a Good Brand Name in the AI & Globalization Age,’ demonstrating that a static brand name is not just ineffective but also detrimental in the modern landscape.

 

The Time for Change is Now: AI’s Brand Name Impact

There’s no room for complacency; adjusting brand naming strategies to align with AI capabilities is not a matter for the distant future – the time for change is now. Consider industry leaders like Google and Amazon. These names were purposefully designed to be memorable, searchable, and adaptable to algorithmic preferences. Google, with its name rooted in the mathematical term ‘googol,’ symbolizes the vast amount of information it aims to organize. Amazon, named after the world’s largest rainforest in terms of its geographical coverage and biodiversity, mirrors these qualities like a mega-corporation with a diverse array of products and services.

 

Both names have contributed to their pervasive online presence and user engagement, Google and Amazon reinforce the urgency to modernize naming strategies. Brand names must now be conceptualized considering the digital algorithms that act as the gatekeepers to consumer interaction and brand visibility.

 

Adaptive Branding: A New Paradigm for the AI & Globalization Age

 

Cultural Intelligence in Branding Your Business Name

Brands can no longer afford to be conceptual in a vacuum; they are inevitably drawn into a global marketplace. With over half of small businesses participating in international trade, the brand naming process is no longer a local endeavor but an exercise in global communication. Names must resonate across disparate cultural landscapes.

 

Navigating Linguistic Landmines: The Importance of Transcultural Names

Mistakes in cross-cultural communications can be disastrous for a brand. The cautionary tale of KFC’s Chinese slogan debacle—”Finger-lickin’ good” turned into “Eat your fingers off”—is testament to this. It emphasizes that brand names and slogans must be capable of transcending language barriers to avoid reputational blunders. It’s another strike against the traditional brand naming approach, which often lacks the discipline to scrutinize such multi-lingual implications.

 

The Rise of ‘Glocalization’: Local Nuances in a Global Context

The fusion term ‘glocal’ encapsulates the new imperative: brands must tailor their global offerings to local tastes without sacrificing their core identity. Take McDonald’s: the brand name remains static, yet the menu morphs to include local delicacies like the McSpicy Paneer in India. The need for names that are both fixed and fluid challenges the premise of traditional brand naming, which is typically static and unresponsive to regional diversity.

So brand names must be adaptive and resilient from now on. There is and will continue to be a paradigm shift that moves us away from traditional norms of how a brand name brings value and effectiveness to a business.

 

Disconnection in the Digital Age

Traditionally, brand names were crafted with local audiences in mind, often banking on familiarity and cultural resonance. However, with 4.9 billion people connected to the internet as of 2021 according to Datareportal, a parochial approach leaves a brand disconnected from the broader, more diverse audience it could engage with. The risk is not just missed opportunities but also a potential reputational downside if a name resonates negatively in a different cultural context.

 

A Fractured Customer Experience

Artificial intelligence shapes consumer experiences from search engine results to personalized advertising. According to a Salesforce report, 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs. Traditional brand names, often formulated without the benefit of big data and analytics, are static and monolithic. They cannot adapt quickly to shifting customer expectations and thus fracture the customer experience.

 

Analytical Shortcomings

Companies like Procter & Gamble use advanced algorithms to predict market trends. Traditional brand naming, without the incorporation of such analytics, cannot adapt to or predict consumer behavior with high accuracy. This is not just an operational inefficiency; it’s a strategic failing that has far-reaching implications for brand equity.

 

Incompatibility with Emerging Platforms

Voice search is the new frontier in the digital ecosystem, but also in AI prompting. Contrary to popular belief, the written language is limited for a number of reasons, but voice coupled with spoken language offers greater possibilities for interfacing with artificial intelligence. For instance, the luxury brand Hermès may be well-known, but its name is not easily recognizable by voice search algorithms, which is diminishing its reach. Easy to pronounce brand names, will ensure you don’t lose business or an opportunity because someone mispronounced your brand name after seeing it in passing on an digital advertisement. We have found that over 70% of smartphone users are using Voice apps to communicate instead of typing with their thumbs. Traditional brand names, often hard to spell or pronounce, will fail this basic test of adaptability once voice becomes more widespread.

Ever use Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri?

 

Essentials of Modern Brand Naming

 

Redefining Brand Naming Through Data Analysis

Data is ‘the new oil’ and it’s as valuable as currency; So its influence should be a major commodity in the brand-naming strategies. Algorithms utilizing AI can provide actionable insights into customer sentiment, linguistic preferences, and overall brand engagement. Take Google’s search algorithm as an example: it processed 3.5 billion daily searches as of 2019, according to Statista. This data-rich environment enables Google to understand user behavior and preferences intimately, influencing not only search outcomes but the company’s broader strategy. Brands seeking longevity and relevance must leverage this kind of data-backed decision-making in their naming strategy.

 

Embracing Agility in the Naming Process

Gone are the days when a name could be static and unchanging. The modern business world, often summarized by the acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), requires an agile approach. Citing a 2020 report from the Project Management Institute, 92% of executives now consider organizational agility a business imperative. Consequently, brand names should be crafted to have the elasticity that allows them to change as per market conditions, yet retain their core identity. Apple’s strategic rebranding from ‘Apple Computers’ to ‘Apple’ demonstrates this kind of agile naming.

So the challenges faced by brands like Kodak and Coca-Cola underline the dire need to reevaluate and modernize brand-naming conventions. The future mandates a data-driven, agile approach to brand naming, a shift that is increasingly non-negotiable in today’s globalized, AI-imbued marketplace.”

 

The Future of Brand Naming in the AI and Globalization Era

The changing dynamics of AI and globalization have made it imperative for companies to rethink their brand naming strategies. Gone are the days when a catchy name sufficed. Today’s brand naming practices must incorporate multi-faceted analytical data, cultural considerations, and an inherent flexibility that allows the name to evolve along with the business.

 

Final Thoughts

To keep pace with the relentless speed of technological advancements and global cultural shifts, brands should employ real-time data analytics to gauge consumer sentiment and market trends. They must also invest in research to ensure cultural compatibility of their brand names and demonstrate integrity in all their branding activities. A company’s name is often the first touchpoint with a potential consumer; making it into less of an art, but more of a inter-disciplined science mixed in with a bit of prophetic alchemy.

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Drew Lewis

Drew is a brand engineer, creative entrepreneur, digital marketer, and designer.

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