No pottery, no barn, no crates, no barrels

Is Crate & Barrel a good name for an upscale home furnishings store?

Does it bother you that Pottery Barn has no pottery for sale and that their stores look nothing like a barn?

In my experience, one of the most frustrating experiences one can have in business is to go through a naming exercise for a new product or service.

I worked on developing a new specialty store concept several years ago and during the search for its name, our CEO came into my office virtually every day to either throw out some idea he came up with the night before (“what if we call it ‘Cool Stuff’?”) or to get my reaction to some existing store name that baffled him (“what’s up with Banana Republic?”).

Of course the issue is that so often we become obsessed with the name, rather than focusing our attention on building a brand. A name without a relevant, differentiated and compelling set of experiences, delivered consistently, over time, risks becoming just a meaningless description.

Now, experts in branding will tell you that there are qualities that make for better names–things like being unique, memorable, easy to pronounce, evocative, supportive of your positioning and the like. And, I certainly recommend that you incorporate this advice into your naming process. By now it’s clear that BlackBerry was a better choice than sticking with the product’s original more literal name PocketLink.

So go spend some time on finding a “good” name. But spend far more time and effort on creating and executing a great brand.

And if you need some inspiration, go do a Google search on your Apple.






5 thoughts on “No pottery, no barn, no crates, no barrels

  1. There’s a reason for everything…as a former employee of C&B, I can tell you the name was very much part of creating the brand and, in its defense, is still halfway evident today. I’m sure you can find the story somewhere online describing how the first store in Chicago was merchandised…and barrels can still be found sprinkled throughout the store.

    There are so many great stories about how company names came to be (Banana Republic is no different…) and how they play a part in their culture, both to employee & customer… past&present (I believe Crate’s current advertising campaign of word play quite creative and an apparent answer to this very dilemma). Future relevance remains to be seen, to be sure, but in most cases, those labels have been effective in serving the primary purpose…to create the company’s initial identity with the added benefit of giving their clients something to remember.

  2. Amy, thanks for your comment. Actually I’m very familiar with the origins of Crate & Barrel and Banana Republic and I’m aware that there was originally a more obvious tie (not unlike Coke). My point is that over time the experience transcends the origin story to the point that consumers don’t even stop to think about it.

  3. Totally got your point..and absolutely agree. I’ve made the same observation myself. Isn’t it funny how things like this become such a part of our daily life that we say their names without so much a second thought… That was definitely their intention…

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