• Hayley Cherrett

Naming without shaming

I always buy Bran Flakes as part of my weekly shopping. I don’t stop to check if there’s an offer on or not. I just buy them. I don’t question them. I trust them.

I know exactly what they are: flakes of bran. It’s written in big letters on the front of the box. The name is a literal description of what’s inside. But would I trust a non-descriptive or leftfield brand name? And how far can it depart from the product?

Bran Flakes are lucky. The name isn’t just an honest description, it sounds interesting as well. Other brands aren’t as fortunate.

It would be boring for skin cream to just be called ‘Skin Cream’. That’s why Nivea tried a bit harder. The name comes from the Latin word Niveus, meaning Snow White. The ‘purity’ is reflected in the company’s white skin cream products.

It’s not immediately obvious, but it's a lot more evocative.

So far away

Some names come randomly, like Kodak. The word is made up. Apparently, founder George Eastman believed names should be short, impossible to misspell and mean nothing. He also liked the letter K. He thought it was incisive. This also means insightful, convenient for a camera company.

I remember having a disposable Kodak when I was younger. It took pictures, exactly what I wanted it to do. That’s why I trusted it.

If a name can be both interesting and literal, I’ll trust it. But I’m equally happy for a brand to do what it says it will, regardless of the name. Excuse me while I take a picture of my Bran Flakes with a disposable Kodak. Hopefully I didn’t mix up the milk and skin cream again.