(Part of my Naming 101 series.)
As trademark lawyers love to remind us, distinctiveness is a paramount goal of brand naming. A name doesn’t need to be original – consider Dove deodorant and Dove chocolate — but it does need to stand out in its category.
But can a name ever be too distinctive – too much of an outlier to connect with its intended audience?
I recently spoke with a business owner via Clarity, the expert-advice service, who wanted my opinion on a name that was distinctive in the extreme. This person, a graphic designer in the Pacific Northwest, was dissatisfied with her current business name, which combines her initials with “design.” She’d come up with a new name and, she told me in an introductory email, had already bought a couple of domains associated with it. The name she wanted my opinion on: MOZZAFIATO.
It sounded distinctive, all right. It also sounded like nothing I’d ever heard of. Google Translate told me mozzafiato is an Italian word meaning “breathtaking,” which is nice but not helpful. How was this name going to help the designer grow her business?