Creating a good brand name from scratch is no mean feat.
You’ll need to find a name that’s memorable, ownable and unique. It needs to convey what the underlying product or service experience is all about. It must stand the test of time. It has to work across a babel of languages – without, of course, offending anyone. It needs the right imagery and logo to match, too.
But when it comes to re-branding an already well-established, generally admired name — presumably for something that better reflects the brand promise — the challenge, and risks, are even bigger. Just ask the team responsible for the Royal Mail’s short-lived re-branding as “Consignia”.
So what to make of the recent re-branding of Orange’s Swiss operations as “Salt.”?
As reported in 24Heures, Johan Andsjö, the head of Salt, has explained that the new company is “personal, simple, sincere, original and efficient”.
Meanwhile, in that same article, Curdin Janett, CEO of Publicis Switzerland (the agency leading the rebranding rollout), commented that “…the word (Salt)…reminds us of what is essential, missed only when it’s absent.” (Both quotes are the author’s translation from French.)
All very clear.
Let’s then come back to how well the name maps against the criteria mentioned above.
Sure, given the name’s anchoring to a common, everyday item. Let’s also assume that the launch and subsequent roll-out campaign do their job of etching the name and mobile services together in the mind of the Swiss consumer.
Unique and ownable?
Within the telco industry, sure.
Conveys what the underlying service is all about?
If the brief was to anchor the name around simplicity and sincerity, fair enough. Certainly the use in Salt’s launch communication of regular folks doing regular things in a regular setting with their mobile also helps.
What’s more timeless a word than “salt”?
Offensive in another language?
One would assume that the creative teams did their due diligence here.
So why am I so underwhelmed?
Try a simple test.
Think of what Orange, Salt’s previous name, conveyed.
I suspect some would say “warmth”. Or “brightness”. Or “energy”. All good things you would want to have associated with your service, especially when you’re in the business of helping people share their experiences and express their emotions.
Then consider “Spark”, the new name for New Zealand Telecom. In the company’s own words, the name is meant to convey “life, potential, energy and creativity”.
I can buy that too.
Now, try “Salt”.
So – the final verdict? Brief met? Check. A great rebrand? Perhaps not.
By David Friedman
David is a Professor of Marketing at the Montreux School of Business