x æ a-xii: how to correctly use symbols in naming
You reap what you sow. The first thing you need to do to enter the market for a brand is to give it a name. In pursuit of originality, namers resort to symbols. So, Elon Musk called his son an exotic combo of letters and symbols, but did he think about the consequences? How to avoid a fail - read in the interpretation of the material of brand consultants from Saffron.
Technology billionaire Elon Musk and his lover, artist Grimes, decided that the 26-letter alphabet was too restrictive for them to choose a name for their child. They named the newborn son X Æ A-Xii, which combines elements from the language of the elves, Roman numerals, and even a reference to the CIA aircraft.
This unconventional approach to naming clearly reflects a growing trend in the world of brands. In the quest to stand out from the competition, brands are moving beyond the alphabet and using symbols.
Of course, this opens up a lot of naming options, but it's important to remember how to apply basic naming principles to innovative character usage.
#1. Choose a name that is easy to remember
In a competitive environment, a brand name should be easy to understand and interesting to remember.
Naming is always an opportunity to break conventions. Like how Steve Jobs went beyond a mere descriptive name for his computer company, or how Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple to break stereotypes.
The use of symbols helps differentiate, particularly in industries where there are few distinguishing features. In the insurance industry, for example, More Th>n and LV= used symbols to challenge themselves with naming and increase recall over their competitors.
#2. Tell an important story
Symbols don't live in a vacuum; they are representative and carry some meaning.
Using random characters for the sake of originality can lead to misperceptions of the brand. There are many hypotheses about the meaning of the name X Æ A-Xii, from Norse mythology to the Book of Genesis. The key to correct audience perception is the use of a symbol that forms a clear legend around the brand name.
A chain of Taiwanese coffee shops and bakeries called 85°C refers to the optimal temperature for brewing coffee. A simple yet iconic story, where the °C symbol stands for precision and quality.
#3. Reflect authentic identity
When used properly, symbols help emphasize the tone of a brand. An exclamation mark at the end of Yahoo! and YUM! conveys the joy and enthusiasm of brand users. This is a claim that the brand character is traceable throughout the brand identity system. Within the relevant categories, this tone is authentic and appropriate for the brand, but clearly not for a serious law firm.
#4. Make the title easy to pronounce
There's a fine line between ingenuity and impracticability. The name will serve as a reference for your brand: in order for people to refer to the brand, they must be able to pronounce it.
The name X Æ A-Xii is visually recognizable, but impossible to pronounce. Likewise, the Korean cosmetics brand su:m37° uses a symbolically heavy name. It certainly impresses with its style, but the division mark can confuse or complicate readability and pronunciation without playing into the hands of the brand. Like it or not, the brand name also lives off word of mouth and increasingly thanks to voice technology.
#5. Check for legitimacy
Creative is creative, but the brand name must be legally available. Due to legal restrictions, you cannot include a number of characters when registering a trademark, such as brackets.
Neglecting legal compliance checks can negatively impact the chosen name. This was faced by Elon Musk and Grimes when the state of California refused to add the characters X Æ A-Xii to the birth certificate and insisted on replacing them. In order to avoid unnecessary edits to the naming, it is important to constantly check with the legal regulations.
#6. Make sure you have a good domain
Getting a good domain name for your brand is a hygienic thing in today's digital world. Lucky Elon Musk owns the X.com domain. When it comes to symbols, accessibility isn't the only thing that matters.
The domain name limits the total number of characters. For example, the consumer association Which? forced to omit the "?" in the domain name. Spelling variability introduces confusion and complicates the online search for your company by users. Having shown creativity and introduced symbols into the brand name in order to rebuild, all the work can go down the drain, burying the company in the search results.
#7. Choose a globally resonant name
Choosing a brand name is a long-term decision. If you are thinking of entering the global market, your name should resonate. Going beyond the English alphabet, the use of symbols crosses linguistic boundaries and, by and large, can increase international resonance.
However, this resonance will also depend on the brand itself that you name. In the end, the name is not only a guideline, but also a bearer of some meaning.
When it comes to choosing a name, for a child or a company, not only uniqueness is important.
If you plan to use symbols in your brand or new product naming, ask yourself these questions:
1. Check the usability of the name: is it equally successful to use it at all points of interaction with the audience, from the site to voice assistants?
2. Does the name comply with legal regulations in all markets where the brand is present?
3. Is the chosen name easy to pronounce? If a consumer wants to share a positive review with friends, how will they pronounce the brand name?
4. To support your ambitions, can using a symbol in a brand name (or even a child) do free publicity for your product or brand?
By: Shan Baines, Associate Strategist
Adapted from: Saffron.
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