Driving a Henry, eating a Milton bar or shopping at Rowland. These are experiences customers might be having were Ford, Hershey and Macy’s named today, rather than 100-plus years ago.
Increasingly prevalent in recent years, first-name brands help give companies and their products more authentic, human identities. If not already, the customer of the future may soon find herself asking Alexa to place a pizza order with Dom or for Erica to schedule her monthly loan payment to Marcus. Oscar, Casper, Lucy, Otto, Lola, Dave, Clara, Lily, TED. The presumed strategy these young brands all share: introduce yourself to customers on a first name basis, and you’ll immediately be viewed as a more personable, approachable and trustworthy partner.
At Lippincott, we attribute this trend to the broader, more fundamental shift underway. Through the power of data, corporations are engaging each customer in radically more personal ways.
For the value exchange to work, customers must trust a company enough to share that personal data, and brands are increasingly realizing that authenticity is key to building that trust. Selecting a human brand name is a potent shortcut, appealing to human familiarity as a heuristic for personal relationships. As put by the founder of the overdraft-dodging financial app, Dave, “We named the company Dave because we wanted people to think of the app as a friend they can turn to when they’re in a financial bind.”
While these names are powerful assets, humanizing the brands they define for the long term, they are also foundations on which deeper connection must be built though story and experience, culture and sustained innovation. This raises the key question facing the Toms, Dick’s and Harry’s of the world: What must a brand do to live up to the human authenticity of a human name?