Tuesday, 7 June 2011

When naming was simpler

Strolling through the back streets of Leicester on Saturday I came across this piece of stationery taped to the door of a disused workshop. I was struck by the excellent brand name 'Kumfi Bedding'. This put me in mind of the joy of making up brand names that describe exactly what the product does and bring in three excellent rules of naming:
1. Mis-spelling
2. Concatenation
3. Hyphenation

My extensive research for examples runs to two that popped into my head, Sleepeezee and Krispy Kreme, both dating back to the 1930s, the La Z Boy recliner (as featured in Friends) and looking through a copy of Ideal Home magazine from May 1954 (the sort of thing I have to hand). This was a cornucopia of of on-brief brand names:

Nevastane kitchen equipment - true to the mis-spelling rule and has that knack of not looking like what saying it out loud means
La-Ze-Li luxury hammock - nicely combining all three rules
Rolakoton - it brushes in as it rolls as it paints (a paint roller to you and me)
Buttador - an ingenious compartment in a Coldrator fridge door that keeps butter at exactly spreadable temperature
Rely-a-Bell, Burglar and Fire Alarm Co Ltd - cleverly bringing in a fourth ingredient - the pun

These names came on a wave of post-war consumerism, influenced by American trends crossing the pond, and inspired by a more advertising savvy world of relaxed language and expansive ideas. There was a streamlining of brand names just as streamlining was an aesthetic (more than scientific) movement in design in the 30s. The names looked good as well as sounded good. They made good logos.

I think the joy of them today is that they are honest, capture a simple proposition, are authentic to their values and celebrate a direct customer benefit. Oh for a La-Ze-Li luxury hammock when you need one...