What’s in a nickname?

Just a quick post today as I’m busy with lots of exciting projects right now!

You may have recently heard that Chevrolet sent a mandate that all brand communications should discontinue the use of “Chevy.” In a recent article from Ad Age, Al Reis discusses the value that a nickname brings a brand. He argues that, in most cases, it’s a good thing that consumers call your company by its nickname because they are familiar and comfortable with the brand.

Reis goes on to discuss many companies that successfully do business under two names (Coca-Cola/Coke, for example) and offers further proof that a nickname cannot be contrived by marketers (Radio Shack/The Shack) and be expected to catch on with consumers.

His formula for success? What he call’s the Marketing Trifecta: “In addition to its formal name, a brand should have 1) a relatively short nickname, 2) a word it owns in the mind and 3) a powerful visual. If you can accomplish all three, you have hit the marketing trifecta.”

It makes sense to me. But I can think of a couple brands where this doesn’t ring true because Reis’ trifecta doesn’t necessitate a positive connotation to the nickname.

Take Jack in the Box, for example:

  • Formal name: Jack in the Box
  • Nickname: Jack in the Crack (ouch)
  • Word it owns: Jack
  • Powerful visual: Big head with little hat

Do you have any examples of other brands that you think have hit the trifecta? Which ones fall short even though they have all the requisites?


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