How Not to Name Your Wine Brand and Assets

Posted by | April 19, 2014 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There are so many opportunities for naming different elements in your wine brand. But what is the best strategy for naming your wine brand and assets (wine club, product lines, blends, etc)? First of all, communication decisions should always stem from the core values and messaging of your brand. If you have not identified the core elements of your company’s vision and mission and how those characteristics relate to your customer, then you are really making your job more difficult. But not identifying these values and sticking to them, companies often waste time and money on misguided efforts. If you haven’t already, before choosing any names, determine your core values as a brand.

How Not to Name Your Wine Brand and Assets

Naming Your Wine after a Person

best wine names

Startup wineries often want to name their new winery after their own family name. While I don’t admonish this, I do feel it is a missed opportunity if they go this route. Unless their name is Larry Turley, Bob Levy or Kris Curran  – i.e.  you have established your name in the wine community already – the consumer will not relate to your brand name if you use your own name. As a communication expert, I know that it is important to take every opportunity available to relate to your consumer.

But everyone else is doing it? Yeah, but it doesn’t mean it is working for them either. Remember what your parents always said, “if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you? ” It always sounded so dramatic when they said it, but you get their meaning now as an adult, right?

Not Relating to Your Brand Identity

wine brand namingIt is tempting to go with a name that has a certain sound to it; “Mystic” “Symphony” “Stiletto”  - don’t they sound so sexy? But if your winery’s identity is about local artisan flavor in an urban setting that values community ethos then these sexy names will not add value to your communication strategy. You risk identifying with people that won’t be your long-term customers. Remember, it is not about getting their attention, it is about keeping it. That is where the real money is made. It is much more expensive to get one purchase from a consumer than it is 6 more purchases from the same consumer.

I think that many people choose a generic sounding name because they don’t want to alienate any consumer. But remember, by trying to connect with every American buyer, especially in today’s fragmented culture, you really only risk not connecting with any consumer on a richer, more committed level.

The same goes for your wine club name and individual wines. Get creative with the names, but have them relate to your brand’s identity so that you have more opportunity to form the connection with your consumers.

Lacks Layers of Meaning

clever wine namesPeople often ask me what my company name means. I love to turn it around on them and ask what it means to them. I always get very interesting and rich interpretations  . . .  and this is exactly what I wanted. I wanted each person to develop their own interpretation of it’s meaning. I wanted to make them think, because the more time they spend thinking about my company the more they will remember us. The more they think about it’s meaning, the more opportunities they have to identify with it’s complex meaning.

There are ways to do this with your wine brand names that still control the central meaning but allow the consumer to add their own slant on it. A good example of communication that applies multiple layers of meaning would be a book. There is always established themes to the book, but the way each reader interprets theme usually varies. One thing I have learned is that novice writers want to tell the world what they know, they want to give answers. But mature writers want to ask questions.

What I am saying is don’t call your winery “Urban Winery” – that doesn’t make them think or ask questions. Sure, it tells them what it is but it doesn’t tell them anything more and that is another missed opportunity to form meaningful, longterm relationships with consumers.

About Courtney Holmes

Courtney Holmes is the founder and creative director of Talk is Sheep Marketing. She developed her company as a full service wine marketing and design firm for two reasons. 1) She saw a direct need in the industry for modern internet marketing and design services. 2) She loves working with the people behind the bottle. They're smart, funny and generally pretty cool people. She works on keeping life simple. She is obsessed with yoga. In love with her husband. And is always failing at being a great dog trainer to her youngest - her 3 year old mutt and terrorist, Augie.

2 Comments

  • You make some excellent points about the potential meaning and implications of name choices. Winery owners and marketers should be aware that they don’t have to guess at who consumers will interpret or react to names – they are quite easy to test and (unlike some other forms of research) it can be done for a modest amount of money. In fact, considering the long term impact and implication of your brand or winery name, I’d call it downright cheap. The main thing is to make sure you have a representative sample of your target customers (i.e. not your relatives or sales people) and to ensure the test or questions are structured in a way not to bias the respondents.

    Years of doing package and name tests have taught me that it’s hard to guess exactly how consumers will react to a label or name, and I’ve never met anyone who is consistently right.

  • You make some excellent points about the potential meaning and implications of name choices. Winery owners and marketers should be aware that they don’t have to guess at how consumers will interpret or react to names – they are quite easy to test and (unlike some other forms of research) it can be done for a modest amount of money. In fact, considering the long term impact and implication of your brand or winery name, I’d call it downright cheap. The main thing is to make sure you have a representative sample of your target customers (i.e. not your relatives or sales people) and to ensure the test or questions are structured in a way not to bias the respondents.

    Years of doing package and name tests have taught me that it’s hard to guess exactly how consumers will react to a label or name, and I’ve never met anyone who is consistently right.

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