No, we’re not talking about that gingerbread, peppermint infused little butterball you’re about to conceive this holiday season—although, that would make for a very interesting topic for discussion during the boxing day coma that will inevitably ensue.
Misnomers are about as confusing as mis-logo-ers (yes, clearly a very invented term). Everything about your brand needs to have what we’d call a scent.
When we’re reading a name or looking at a logo we’re getting a whiff of what the business is. Naturally, if you make a chocolate cake and it smells like hot dogs something has gone wrong.
This is why it is so important to infuse your logo with your brand promise. Equally so, your name should at least not be misleading.
At a recent networking event we attended I had a good discussion with a rideshare company recently renamed Pop (formally Hitchplanet). I was clearly curious how they had landed on “Pop” since the name really doesn’t have any literal reference to cars or sharing.
For them, the name was to become more ubiquitous like Google or AirBnB. They want to integrate with the language and become verbified like these two megalodons.
Heck, I even Googled the word “megalodon” to make sure I was using it right. You get the idea.
At first I thought that might be a tough sell. Pop exists as soda already. It is already pretty well established. Google did exist as a word before, but it was obscure to most at the time. They didn’t have to contend with preconceived notions.
But then I thought just a bit more.
Pop already integrates with our language: “I’ll pop by”; “Pop on over”; “Pop and lock”. Okay, maybe that last one was for the dance crowd. The point is, we already use it in the right context. They’re basically annexing it, which can work great for a business.
We get it. We understand it. It smells right.
So to recap, it works because it doesn’t necessarily make us think of something else. In the context of driving, Pop does not feel out of place. If we framed the conversation around old school soda shoppes, then, yes, clearly very confusing.
Context is as important as the name itself.
Let’s take a look at the logo of an eatery I recently was at on Granville St., downtown.
I will preface this with the fact that I quite enjoyed the food. Often I find the area somewhat lackluster in terms of good choices. I’d actually go back to this one…but I digress.
Did you guess? I wouldn’t have until walking in the door. Make that, walking up to the counter and ordering.
It’s basically a Chipotle concept where they make both burritos and salads and you tell them what you’d like in your wrap. Even the guacamole is a bit pricey (so basically the same?) But let me reiterate, the food was good!
Let’s start with the name. Hungry Guys Kitchen lacks much of a scent for the business. It works wonderfully out of context. No doubt do they serve food. The only other thing that jumps to mind is a couple of dudes from Hungary.
It even has a bit of a charm to it in its obviousness. But in context of a long list of restaurants on Yelp, it really doesn’t jump out as anything specific.
I’m so tempted to jump on top of the logo right now, but let’s stick to the name for a moment.
If you read their FAQ on “Why Hungry Guys?” it is actually a short but nice story about a tribute to their mother. She used to say “Are you hungry, guys?”
This is where they have a great opportunity to be a bit cheeky and give a bit of scent to what their business is. If they go from “Hungry Guys”, to “Hungry, Guys?” everything about the name changes.
No longer are you thinking there might be some dudes in the back chowing down on anything they can get their hands on; or vice versa, a bunch of customers leaving hungry (by the way, the burritos are huge and that wouldn’t happen).
Instead you feel engaged, “Heck yes, I’m hungry!” They become the answer to your gurgling belly. We still don’t know they make burritos or salads but that’s okay—we’re already in the door.
The point isn’t that your business’ name needs to be literal. It should speak to your brand promise and be treated as another opportunity to give customers a whiff of what you are about.
You have a much steeper hill to climb when you are using language that already is established and has meaning.
That’s why you might also struggle with the name Catch 122. It’s clever and punny but whenever I think food and catch, it’s always fish related.
Their Google info even says, “Contemporary Canadian meals, including brunch, served in a rustic-chic, brick-lined space.” Catch 122 has a couple seafood items on the menu but by and large, that is not their jam.
Catch 122 as a bookstore or even a games shop, now that might work quite well. The context fits. The mental jump is not so vast.
Okay, so some quick notes on the logo because I can’t let it stand. The reason Hungry Guys Kitchen really stands out as a misnomer to me is because of the logo.
Why Hüngry? The accent appears to be completely ornamental. It draws our attention elsewhere because we begin to think German, or Swedish or maybe even Norwegian.
By the simple addition of an umlaut accent they’ve made themselves appear to be something very specific that they are not. They couldn’t be any further from Scandinavian or German food.
This is why you must be so careful with your logo and why it is not just a pretty picture. When you really start looking at it, you realize the type they’ve chosen is very military looking. The message becomes even less clear.
Are we talking about hungry military men in Germany?
To top it off, the cutlery being a fork and spoon completely sends us down the wrong train of thought. Conceivably you would use a fork for a salad, but burritos being the focus here, spoons are never even touched.
We’ve covered focus a few months back and this is precisely why.
When you have it, you can analyze your assets and your marketing efforts to make sure they fall in line. Once they do you’ll find people will come to know you better as what you intend.
Its true meaning will fill your logo and name by the business you run, but there is no sense fitting square pegs into round holes.