Brand identity: What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

The issue of naming is not as arbitrary as Shakespeare would have us believe. A name brings nuanced meaning, bringing with it the cultural associations the name carries. Sometimes, there can be positive and negative meanings associated with a name.

Consider Apple. In the computer and business world, it is associated with design andengineering, and a close attention to detail. In the music world, Apple is associated with the Beatles. Going back a bit further in history, apples have played an important role in society, perhaps most notably with Isaac Newton and his discovery of the laws of gravity.

 

Apples also have a dark side in history, such as the cyanide laced apple with which Alan Turing took his life. Other occurrences in mythology, such as Snow White’s apple, confirm this dual nature.

How then do we determine the meaning associated with a symbol? Are all apples symbolic of science or poison? Hardly. With every symbol, the way in which it is used reinforces a preferred meaning. With Apple, Inc., the slogan Think Different emphasized Newton’s scientific genesis. Through time, this has been amplified through increased innovation. Alan Turing Memorial

Not every brand has the history of the apple, however. Many more are built upon the names of their founders. Ford, Dell, and Toyota are all family names. Even Walmart derives it’s name from founder Sam Walton. In each case, these brands developed their own identity, without relying as heavily on prior associations.

How should you brand yourself? While in the past, this blog was hosted at maplemuse.wordpress.com, I have decided that a change was in order. Why was I working on a different brand when I could be building my own identity? This blog is now hosted at the fresh and minty nickmatthews.ca. After all, that’s who I am.

 

Author: Nick Matthews

A software developer and English major. Full time geek.

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