Creating company and product names is a specialism of ours here at Grain. Check out this infographic for some tips on how to create a great name.
What does your logo say about your company? Here’s a brief guide, infographic-style, on typography, colour, shape and semantics.
We just found out that we’re on the shortlist for both the ‘Creative Industries Business of the Year’ and the ‘West London Business of the Year’ in the West London Business Awards which are being held by West London Business and Chart Lane. The awards ceremony is on November 28th which is also American Thanksgiving so let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we have a lot to give thanks for on the evening.
A common misconception is that a company’s brand is purely graphic design territory.
Branding — everyone knows it’s important, but what exactly is it? It derives from the notion of farmers making a mark on their livestock. Paint is the preferred method used today but in the past, farmers would burn a symbol, letter or emblem onto their cattle and other animals to signify ownership. The word ‘brand’ derives from the German for burned: verbrannt.
The dictionary definition of branding is: “Promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.” This loose description doesn’t quite cut it for me. A brand is much more than a look or feel of a company — it’s the business’s personality, its ethos, its philosophy and how these principles are communicated to consumers and other businesses.
A BUSINESS AND ITS NAME
Someone once told me “A good name can be chosen, a great one is earned.”
This notion is one that I feel is very important to branding as a whole. Apple have a logical ethos, people associate them with sophistication, functionality and cutting edge technology and this can all be communicated to someone via that neat little iconic logo. It’s simple enough, now, for Apple to simply apply that logo to a product in order to persuade consumers that the object they’re seeing is sophisticated, functional, and cutting edge. But this effect was earned and supported extensively by marketing and advertising.
Sure, the logo itself is, in layman’s terms, ‘sleek’, ‘simple’ and ‘cool’, all adjectives that signify the intended characteristics, but if it wasn’t for a unified brand ethos, well-communicated company principles and a long-term marketing strategy, that little apple and indeed the word ‘Apple’ would be just that: fruit.
So, now I’m going to contradict myself a little. Graphic designers spend their entire working lives trying to communicate meaning through the use of logos, typefaces, imagery, semiotics and iconography. A huge amount of thinking and effort goes into the storytelling of a brand’s image. That little logo that Apple uses has a story; it’s not just a fruit with a hugely successful company behind it.
CNN tell the story better than I do:
The logo on the back of your iPhone or Mac is a tribute to Alan Turing, the man who laid the foundations for the modern-day computer, pioneered research into artificial intelligence and unlocked German wartime codes.
His death, a decade after the end of the war, provides the link with Apple. Unrecognised for his work, facing jail for gross indecency and humiliated by estrogen injections intended to ‘cure’ his homosexuality, he bit into an apple he had laced with cyanide. He died in obscurity on June 7, 1954, 10 years and a day after the Normandy landings, which made copious use of intelligence gleaned by his methods.
And so, the story goes, when two Stanford entrepreneurs were looking for a logo for their brand new computer company, they remembered Turing and his contribution to their field. They chose an apple — not a complete apple, but one with a bite taken out of it.
This whole concept poses a new challenge to graphic designers. When a client comes to us with a brief, we have to sell them a story, not just a pretty picture. We have to tell them why this principle, this essential design element, represents their company. Clients have to believe in their brand because it’s much more than a ‘particular, distinctive design’.
So a brand is both something that evolves over time as well as something that is specifically designed at the company’s birth. But how much control do companies have over these communications? Recent history tells us companies are willing to hand over more and more control to their customers and clients; social networks and sharing sites are driven by their content and therefore ultimately their consumers. Sites like etsy and threadless allow users to design their own clothes and accessories which ultimately represent the company and its philosophies. Truth be told, the Apple story is but a myth.
Rob Janoff who designed the logo back in late 70′s said: I’m afraid it didn’t have a thing to do with [the Turing story]…It’s a wonderful urban legend.
The story of a brand is part of the evolution of a company. Its logo, typeface and overall design meaning constantly changes. A good brand is all about good business — or is it? You must first have the foundations for a good business which lies in its business ethos, philosophy and marketing strategy, and the way in which these principles are communicated through the company’s brand. Communication is key here, both within the company, between the company and their designers as well as ultimately and most importantly, between the company and its consumers.
Cars have fascinated me for years. But what’s also fascinated me are some of the names. And at Grain, I’ve had an insight into the importance of the right name, and the process of selecting one.
I’ve always thought the name of the model has a big role to play in how people perceive the car. The name has to reflect what the car is all about. For example, the Land Rover Defender isn’t going to be a little town car. The names of car models can give life to what is essentially a piece of machinery, a tool to aid our travel. Lamborghini have always won me over with their models names. The Diablo, the Murcielago, the Gallardo, the Aventador. They sound as mad as the cars. The Lamborghini Escort would be a bit of a disappointment.
There are a few that in my opinion should have given the naming of car models a higher priority. McLaren’s latest model the MP4-12C, a fantastic car, technologically incredible and designed to perfection. Really a fantastic feat of engineering. But if you were lucky enough to own one and then asked what you drive, “a McLaren 12C” doesn’t really sound as impressive as the car itself. “A McLaren SuperTurboThrust 3000”…better?
I like cars to have proper names. It helps to evoke the personality of the car. More and more though, cars are named with numbers and codes. The Q3, 5, 7, the 1, 3, 5, 7 Series and so on. For example you might see a car for sale that the advert reads: ‘BMW 320D 2.0 SE’. Even if you understand what it all means, it has no personality.
There have been some great car names, which some current car manufacturers could take note of: the Jenson Interceptor, the Dodge Viper or the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. I’d much rather say, “I drive an Interceptor” rather than an “A8.” Shouldn’t a name be more than just a way of distinguishing one product from another?
Because we just used an Eames image for the Brand Attributes of one of our clients I was thinking about this film, made by the Eames office originally in 1968 (final version in 1977) for IBM.
It’s a beautifully crafted short film about the relative size of things. Warning: will make you feel very small!
I enjoyed watching this lecture by Anthony Burrill at the Walker Art Center: I find him to be an unassuming but brilliant man.
Grain Creative announces today that it has been successful in being shortlisted for two awards as West London Business of the Year 2013 and Creative Industries Business of the Year 2013.
The West London Business Awards are the first and only business awards for West London. They are organised by West London Business, the regional chamber of commerce and shows innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial characteristics of the West London business community.
Judge Nigel Milton of Heathrow Airport said, “It’s great to see such a wide selection of growing entrepreneurial businesses generating more and more jobs. From our perspective, we saw some brilliant international activity, but the quality across the board was inspiring.”
Christoph Geppert, Grain Creative’s Managing Director said, “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for not just one but two categories of these awards and are looking forward to a successful evening on the 28th November.”
Background on West London Business
West London Business (WLB) is one of London’s premier business groups, representing over 800 businesses from SMEs through to large multi-national corporations, supporting members and providing business networking events, marketing support, lobbying programmes and information platforms.
Background on Grain Creative
Grain Creative is a specialist team of strategic thinkers and designers dedicated to helping brands grow through effective communication. Established in 2002, based in West London, they collectively bring their expertise in design and management to offer design solutions as individual as their clients and supported by a truly personal service. In essence, they operate a concept driven agency that focuses on business understanding, strategic insight and effective communications.
Working across a broad range of client sectors, they have developed a specialism in the property services market and the luxury brands world. Their creative services range from naming to the creation of brand identities, to website design and development to apps and from packaging to property investor brochures.
For more information contact:
Catherine Hall, Grain Creative, firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7524 7550
Fish and chippies must have the monopoly on wordplay, as shown by ‘The Cod Father’ in this Guardian article on restaurant naming. How about ‘Oh My Cod’, ‘The Fish Plaice’, ‘Codfellas’, ‘Frying Nemo’, ‘Codrophenia’, ‘The Frying Scotsman’, ‘Northern Sole’…ok, ok we’ll stop now. The article does cover much more upmarket venues like the Wolseley and The Fat Duck. We enjoy Bumpkin in Notting Hill, probably because we lead a split urban and countryside life so can appreciate mixing the best of both.