30 Fabulous Companies of the Year 2021

In Conversation with David Placek, Lexicon Branding Founder and Creative Director: ‘We Exist to Create Original and Effective Branding Solutions’


“Our first step is to understand the client team’s vision for the future and how they want the new brand to behave in the market—behavior in all aspects.”

Lexicon Branding is a consulting firm. It’s focused entirely on developing brand names and brand architectures for game-changing products, innovations, and new companies.

The company was incorporated in 1982 and is headquartered in Sausalito, CA.

David Placek, Lexicon Branding Founder and Creative Director, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why are brand names critical for business success?

The digital economy and its major innovations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google have placed additional performance requirements on brand names.

Today, to be effective, brand names must perform across multiple media and social platforms, across multiple languages and cultures. They have to get attention in a world of dramatically distracted consumers and be legally protectable. These new performance requirements make traditional approaches to naming obsolete.

You have to have a name, but with the borderless nature of our economies, increasing trademark challenges, and other hurdles, you are lucky to land on one that is worth having. The right name delivers more value than ever before. It tells your story and allows your brand to communicate across media, languages, and cultures.

Q. What are some suggestions for the development of an effective brand name?

First, forget about using a brand name to tell the audience how the product is different or describe its benefit. In today’s digital economy, brand names must represent a company or product’s most original, unique, and memorable asset. All truly effective digital brand names do this, including Apple, Google, and Tesla, but it is not just big technology brands. When we created the Impossible® Foods brand, the company was in the early startup stage. When we created the Sonos brand, Rincon Networks had only 18 employees.

Second, make unforgettable your top priority.

We love the phrase ‘impossible to forget’. It’s simple to influence how people make up their minds, and you must influence what they remember. The more memorable the name, the easier for consumers to buy the product. How valuable is that?

Compare Infoseek to Google. The former tells you what it does, and the latter communicates a new and original idea. Google was so distinctive at the time of launch. It was also the most memorable brand in the category. What was that worth?

Compare Gatorade to Powerade. The former is a provocative, original idea, becoming a completely memorable sports drink. Powerade succeeds at imitation only.

Third, make it easy for your audience to imagine.

The best names stimulate the audience’s imagination—the most effective brand stories are the ones told by your consumers. When we created Swiffer for P&G, we evaluated the name with busy moms and dads. The name allowed them to imagine an easier, more efficient, and more joyful cleaning experience before telling them anything about the product’s features or benefits.

If the name had been ProMop, they never would have imagined a unique cleaning experience. Today, Swiffer is a $4 billion brand sold in multiple countries. When you make it easy to imagine, you make it easy to buy.

Fourth, make the development of brand names a strategic endeavor.

Take the time to develop your next permanent marketing asset. The right creative resources with proven experience will deliver high returns. The reality is that most models, products, and services get copied over time. A brand name with a registered trademark is the one thing that your competitors can’t duplicate. And just as important, nothing will be used more often or for longer than your name.

Q. How does Lexicon create a roadmap to create an effective new brand?

Our first step is to understand the client team’s vision for the future and how they want the new brand to behave in the market—behavior in all aspects. We ask what the experience is like: how will their customers be treated, and what is the ideal description that a customer would give to others about the brand?

Q. How do you market your services?

We develop all business on a referral basis based on our many successes—that is the best way to build a business.

Q. Do you have new services launching soon?

We are currently looking seriously at a new venture in Asia and a new opportunity in sonic branding. We also continue to evolve our neuroscience-guided analytics to develop and select the best solutions. No other naming company has more data on how sound symbolism, letter structure, rhythm, or consumer insights can affect a name’s perception and memorability.

“We develop category-defining names for the world’s biggest and most innovative brands. Swiffer, Sonos, Pentium, Dasani, and Impossible Foods are just a few of the hundreds of successful product and company names we have created.”