David Placek Lexicon

How to create an iconic brand name

We speak to the agency behind the likes of Sonos and BlackBerry about the secret to coming up with a brand name that resonates – and why it’s more challenging than ever now

There’s a huge amount of pressure on businesses when it comes to finding the right name for their brand. After all, nothing will be used for longer or more often in their lifespan. For those not in the know, distilling a brand’s essence into the perfect name – one which simultaneously captures your audience’s attention, communicates your brand story, and reflects your values – could almost be an act of magic.

David Placek has been in the naming business since the early 1980s, when he spotted a gap in the market and decided to set up his own specialist agency. Four decades on, Lexicon has helped build some of the world’s most famous brands, ranging from Sonos to Impossible Foods. “The development of branding has become much more critical and strategic than it was 40 years ago,” Placek tells CR. “The reasons are fairly obvious: the digital economy that we live in has brought major innovations, lots of choices, lots of channels to buy things from, and lots of chatter, and so names have to pierce through that.”

Finding a brand name that hasn’t already been trademarked or registered online is one of the biggest challenges to this process today. Almost every conceivable word exists as a url somewhere now, forcing new businesses to explore increasingly abstract phrases and unusual pairings. Placek believes that there will be an “inflection point of difficulty” in the next couple of years, citing the recent explosion of AI brands as an example of just how challenging it is to cut through nowadays.

David Placek Lexicon