–Susan Perera, Attorney

I find it very interesting how personal perception of a brand name can influence us and I sometimes wonder how much thought is given to brand names when they are chosen. Sure, large companies can, and often do, hire naming specialists who study and create names that will appeal to the masses, but what about small businesses? 

Are start-up owners considering how the public will perceive their name choice? It would be very interesting to see a comparison of the time and consideration that is spent on name decisions for the average small company when compared to industry giants. My guess is that many start-up business owners pick names that are personal to them, with little additional thought to the possible wide range of public interpretations.

I recently ran across two such examples. The first was with the FLUKE mark. If you’re not already familiar, Fluke Corporation is the maker of a wide range of electrical testing equipment, a brand that is widely recognized and respected in our home (due to my husband’s electrical background). However, during one home project a visiting family member, unfamiliar with the brand, questioned why FLUKE would be used as the brand name saying, “Is it a fluke if that thing works?” I had never considered this interpretation and I wondered if others have had the same reaction on first exposure to the brand.

Then on a recent home improvement shopping trip I ran across this display for MUSTEE shower installations.  While it is possible that our need for basement bathroom fixtures tainted our perception, you can likely guess what my husband’s interpretation of this mark was.

Unbeknownst to me, a quick search of these companies uncovered that both FLUKE and MUSTEE are family names originating with John Fluke and Emil Lawrence Mustee.

I found it surprising that even a family name, a seemingly safe choice, could insight such varied interpretations by consumers, which undoubtedly has some impact on consumer purchasing decisions.

Does this advocate for additional research into names before branding?  Possibly.  However, in spite of any such consumer perceptions both FLUKE and MUSTEE appear to be thriving.