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Why ‘The 268’? There’s method to choosing a sub-brand

What’s in a name? For businesses, just about everything.

Think of the difference between Twittr, the original social media site name, and Twitter, or TheFacebook and Facebook, or the gap in consumer recognition between shopping at Dayton Hudson Co. and Target.

In fact, naming your brand, sub-brand or offshoot product is a serious business.

This is even more significant when you want the newly-named creation to have a life of its own beyond the parent company, be easily findable on Google, or have its own web domain that sticks in the mind.

But there are more than 3 million registered web addresses in Australia (ending in .au) and 40,000 new addresses are registered every month. Globally there are 1.86 billion web pages and counting.

So how do you develop a name that means something to you — and will become memorable to others — in a world where everything clever seems taken? And should your sub-brand or product be directly linked back to your overarching name?

It’s a question we asked when we were developing our new content hub, The 268. It’s not an instinctive name, but as you’ll see, there’s method in this enigmatic choice.

Sub-brands don’t have to be the same as their parents

In the world of brand architecture, there are different approaches you can take. Some companies insist the parent brand remain on every product, known as a branded house. Take Virgin or FedEx for example:

Apple uses a uniform sub-brand strategy. It has its overarching brand (Apple) but a suite of ‘i’ sub-brands: iPad, iPhone, iTunes, iPod.

Some brands use what they call an endorsed brand strategy. Consider food manufacturers who might have a single parent brand but different ranges for different tastes.

Then there is what is known as the ‘house of brands’ strategy. In this approach, each product can be designed to stand alone or become its own brand in the future if required.

In addition, for something which is content-led (and would find its way into people’s inboxes as a form of newsletter) there are additional considerations:

  • Using the target market in the name: If you segment your audiences (and you probably should), one option is to create a brand which references your target market. “Conversations That Matter for the Mining Sector”, or “Conversations That Matter for the Property Sector” would have been possibilities for our new content hub and associated emails. But we work across so many sectors and industries that it wouldn’t be practical to create separate brands for each one.
  • Using the content idea in the name: If your new brand is solely concerned with a single issue, or specific skills, using words which reflect that isn’t a bad idea. We work across so many different industries though, and have four distinctive arms to the business (investor relations, government relations, corporate affairs, and design and digital), that we needed a name which would be relevant across the whole business.
  • Branding-based names: Utilising elements of an already recognisable brand is a smart move as it supports, yet develops, awareness and understanding of what you do.

 

What approach did we take?

In considering the approach for naming our content news hub, we had a few key criteria.

  • We wanted to have something that reflected (however obliquely) our own parent brand, Cannings Purple, but which would not be confused with it. Cannings Purple is a pretty unusual name for a communications agency but we like it.
  • We wanted the news hub to have its own URL as well as being attached to our main website. That meant finding something we could register that wasn’t taken.
  • We didn’t want anything else that could be mistaken for our name – which was a big challenge.
  • We wanted to reflect our purpose of starting and shaping conversations that matter.
  • We wanted to be memorable. In a world of noise, we wanted to be easily recalled.

 

Before we settled on a branding strategy, however, we started simply, by thinking of the names we liked or thought might be useful and then testing them with each other and against the hardest critic of all: Google.

This began with a range of techniques, most them associative, to conjure up possible ideas. Our Art Director Cameron Jones will tell you that at this point, there’s no bad idea, and that you need at least 50 to find just one which leads you somewhere interesting. And as you’ll see from the edited list below, there were plenty which felt strained or kitsch, but which subsequently took us to our final choice.

Our initial list was run through search engines, and turned up a range of challenges, from being so generic as to be too hard to rank in search lists to conflicting with other company sites, movies, books, songs, bars, shoes, and even nail polish.

Here’s an example of some of the findings and names we tested and discarded.

 

Ideas ExchangeCanadian entertainment site.
Online collaborative community
EnterpriseToo generic
The DirectiveUS Band. Book by Matthew Quirk
UltravioletUltra Violet – Studio 54 fame.  Also a movie
Purple MatterSong by Frank Ocean
NewsworthyToo generic
The ExchangeSBS online community. Kalgoorlie hotel
Purple ExchangeExchange policies for purple products
Purple ParleyAdidas shoe
DistillationToo generic
The IrisBar in Jandakot and a movie.
PantoneColours, expect copyright issue
Mauving on upNail Polish
Mauving NewsCyprus marathon
In ConversationWebsite – news, research and analysis
Insightful ConversationsVideos, videos on another video.  
Website – Common Sense Leadership
ConverseShoes
InSightsWebsite – leader in global learning and development solutions

Website – young Australians in international affairs

PurpleScopeLimited Liability Partnership firm
Kaya (Noongar for hello)Health clubs. Consulting Firm – leadership coaching
Zǐsè News – Chinese for PurpleChinese language version of News.com.au
The LowdownYouTube. Car website. NZ Health website
InsightflEveryone will look for insighfUl
The DistilleryBranding and stationery.  So many distilleries.  So many bars
Purple Pow WowDrumming videos
PalaverDefinition and meanings

 

From here, we began to think more obliquely and enigmatically about some of the other options which did make it through the Google scan.

We decided to focus on a name which reflected the recognisable elements of our parent brand (Cannings Purple), but which could be developed as an identity in its own right. Purple is often the thing people remember about our brand – it’s a strong and regal colour (indeed a shade of it was voted colour of the year for 2018), and it’s a memorable naming element for a professional services business, especially as so many are strings of surnames which take time to bed into the memory.

We investigated words and things associated with ‘purple’. From objects which are primarily purple coloured, to exotic foreign words which mean purple, to phrases and idioms which nod to the colour.

And it was this, more obtuse practice, which led us to The 268.

I wondered if there were shades of purple paints which might have interesting, but related names, and that in turn led me to consider the various colour codes we use on a daily basis as part of our design practice. Hex colour codes, RGB colour codes, CMYK alternatives. None of them worked until I looked into the precise shade of purple of our logo and the correlating Pantone code: 268.

This felt right. It was enigmatic and unusual; it invoked the question…. Why? But the answer was always met with recognition and familiarity. There was a satisfaction in knowing that Cannings Purple’s sub-branded content hub was named after the colour purple – a word which has been so important to our brand since day one.

On discussion with our design team, it also became apparent that the shape of the loops inherent in the numbers 2, 6 and 8 would also work well with the strong Cannings Purple logo and speech bubble motif we’re now using. It felt right. The visuals, the subtext, the history and the meaning seemed to nestle together in a satisfying and meaningful way.

Which is why we’re The 268. We hope you like it.