Make Your Brand’s Nickname Work for You

Shoppers having been driving Chevys, ingesting Cokes, buying at Tarjay, and consuming at MickeyD’s for many years. However as increasingly more model engagement strikes on-line, how ought to entrepreneurs method these model nicknames in an more and more digital panorama?

In a recent study, we investigated how model nicknames can affect each shoppers’ engagement with manufacturers and the way credible they discover a model’s communications. Within the first a part of the research, we carried out an evaluation of greater than 10,000 consumer-written tweets that referenced three well-known manufacturers, and in contrast share and like charges for posts that used formal identify hashtags (e.g., #chevrolet, #buffalowildwings, and #newenglandpatriots) with posts that used nickname hashtags (e.g., #chevy, #bdubs, and #pats). We discovered that nicknames had a transparent optimistic impression on engagement: On common, shopper tweets that used nickname hashtags have been shared twice as a lot and preferred thrice as a lot as tweets that used the formal identify hashtags.

Nonetheless, issues get a bit of extra sophisticated whenever you take a look at company-written posts. We carried out six follow-up research with greater than 1,500 U.S. shoppers wherein we in contrast how folks reacted to model nicknames in Instagram and Twitter posts coming from shoppers and from official model accounts. We discovered that who makes use of a model nickname could make an enormous distinction: When shoppers used model nicknames, it usually made the knowledge of their posts seem extra credible and genuine to different shoppers — however when a model used its personal nickname, it really had the other impact.

Why may that be? Our analysis means that whenever you see a fellow shopper use a nickname in an internet evaluation or social media publish, it may ship the message that the buyer has a real relationship with the model, thus growing your belief in no matter that shopper says concerning the model. However when firms use nicknames in their very own official communications, it may come throughout as promotional and manipulative, making their posts appear much less credible. For instance, in a single research, we discovered that when shoppers learn an Instagram publish wherein Walmart used its nickname Wally World to advertise a product, they have been 9% much less more likely to agree that the publish appeared honest, and 10% much less probably to purchase the product, than those that learn a publish wherein Walmart used its formal identify.

After all, this doesn’t imply that manufacturers shouldn’t have interaction in any respect with their nicknames — but it surely’s essential to have interaction in the correct manner. Primarily based on our analysis, there are a number of key Dos and Don’ts that entrepreneurs ought to think about in the case of managing model nicknames within the digital world:

What to Do:

1. Keep Abreast of Your Model Nicknames

The overwhelming majority of shoppers repeatedly encounter model nicknames — in truth, solely 3% of the shoppers in our research indicated that that they had by no means seen a model nickname on-line. It’s essential for entrepreneurs to pay attention to how their prospects are speaking about them, and that features preserving tabs on the evolving, casual language that buyers use.

To do this, social media groups ought to be certain they’re monitoring not simply their group’s official identify, but additionally any hashtags or account tags that use widespread nicknames for his or her model. You might consider these unofficial names as secondary, however they could be a lot extra widespread than you may notice. Take Chevrolet, as an illustration. Our evaluation confirmed that 41% of Twitter posts that used a hashtag referencing the corporate used the nickname “Chevy” fairly than the official identify. The very last thing a marketer would need can be to overlook a buyer criticism or alternative for optimistic shopper engagement simply because somebody used @nickname as an alternative of @officialname of their publish.

2. Embody Nicknames in Your website positioning Technique

If you happen to seek for “Chevy” in Google, the primary end result that exhibits up is Chevrolet’s official web site. However seek for Mickey D’s or Tarjay, and also you’ll see outcomes from websites like City Dictionary and Wiktionary above these model’s personal web sites. It’s essential to maintain widespread model nicknames in thoughts when designing your Search Engine Optimization (website positioning) technique, to make sure that your shoppers can discover your model simply it doesn’t matter what identify they use.

Importantly, this isn’t nearly Google hits. Has your model partnered with a platform like Alexa to extend discoverability? In that case, it’s price making certain that these third-party instruments acknowledge your model’s nicknames, because it’s very attainable that these are the phrases your prospects might be utilizing when looking for your organization. And naturally, entrepreneurs ought to be sure you bear in mind {that a} model can have multiple nickname. For instance, in our analysis we noticed prospects referring to their BMWs as beemers, beamers, and bimmers. Guaranteeing that every one variations of your model’s nickname are included in your website positioning technique will help to maximise your model presence in a crowded digital panorama.

3. Defend Your Model Nicknames

Model nicknames could also be created and utilized by shoppers, but it surely’s as much as the corporate to verify these nicknames are legally protected. This is applicable in numerous areas, from securing logos for widespread nicknames to buying URL domains. As an example, attempt going to Even though the time period beemer has greater than two million search outcomes on Google, the URL isn’t owned by BMW. Proactively defending your nicknames minimizes the chance of the identify being hijacked by opponents or unrelated companies.

For instance, many youthful shoppers discuss with the retail large Canadian Tire by the irreverent nickname “Crappy Tire,” however the firm was taken by surprise when a shopper registered the web site “” and used it to publish detrimental complaints concerning the firm. The corporate rapidly filed a case with the World Mental Property Group (WIPO), however they misplaced the authorized battle. The WIPO found that the corporate had “failed to ascertain that the complainant (the corporate) has rights within the trademark or service mark,” and that due to this fact there was no authorized recourse to reclaim the URL for his or her well-liked nickname. To make issues worse, Canadian Tire then provided to purchase the area, however the proprietor refused to promote.

Equally, soccer celebrity Cristiano Ronaldo ran into trouble when he tried to advertise his line of underwear within the U.S. utilizing his well-liked nickname CR7. It turned out that one other enterprise had already trademarked the identify CR7 in America, sparking a sophisticated authorized battle. Whereas there’s no avoiding authorized danger totally, it’s a good suggestion for manufacturers to make sure their nicknames are as protected as attainable, earlier than a problem arises.

What To not Do

1. Don’t Attempt to Cease Shoppers from Utilizing Nicknames

In 1913, Coca-Cola launched a campaign referred to as Coca-Cola: Ask for it by its full identify. But after 30 years of persistent advertising, shoppers continued to make use of the nickname “Coke.” Extra just lately, Chevrolet skilled major backlash after information broke that the corporate had banned inner use of the identify “Chevy” in an try to make sure model consistency.

Particularly if a model nickname has a detrimental connotation (comparable to “Entire Paycheck” for Entire Meals, or “Repair it once more, Tony!” for Fiat), it may be tempting to attempt to restrict its use. However whilst you won’t like your model’s nicknames, you’ll be able to’t actually cease your prospects from utilizing them — and also you’re solely more likely to alienate them when you attempt.

2. Don’t Co-opt Nicknames

The principle cause that model nicknames resonate with shoppers is that they’re created, used, and owned by shoppers, which means they’re a real reflection of how shoppers really feel a few model. Eighty-one % of the shoppers in our research believed that model nicknames originate from shoppers, not firms, and 88% felt that nicknames needs to be utilized by people, not by firms. When an organization blatantly tries to undertake its prospects’ language for advertising functions, it may come off as pressured, remodeling the nickname from a consumer-owned time period of endearment into an official, company-owned identify. This usually eliminates the authenticity and genuineness that the identify conveyed when used solely by shoppers.

A part of what makes this so difficult is that co-opting nicknames can appear helpful to the model within the quick time period, however in the long term, it may destroy the identify’s standing as a real nickname. This doesn’t imply that manufacturers can by no means use nicknames — but it surely’s necessary to be strategic about how you employ them. For instance, absolutely rebranding with a consumer-generated nickname most likely isn’t a good suggestion, however highlighting model nicknames in referral packages, buyer evaluations, or different peer-to-peer interactions will help to make a model’s advertising message appear genuine and real with out threatening shoppers’ possession of the nickname.

3. Don’t Power a Nickname on Shoppers

For a nickname to stay, it has to return naturally. In case your model doesn’t have one but, it may be tempting to give you a nickname your self and attempt to push it onto your prospects — however our analysis suggests that’s unlikely to work. Nicknames convey authenticity as a result of they’re natural, created and owned by shoppers.

That mentioned, you don’t have to only sit round and wait, hoping {that a} good nickname will come to you. When you can’t power a nickname wholesale onto shoppers, there are issues you are able to do to nudge shoppers to give you a nickname. One method is to encourage prospects to decide on a private nickname for his or her product or account. For instance, in our previous research, we famous how Chase financial institution provides prospects the choice to nickname their accounts, and the way Nikon asks shoppers to nickname their merchandise through the on-line registration course of. Whereas these nicknames begin out as personal names used solely by particular person shoppers, the catchy ones could go viral rapidly if shoppers select to share them.

One other method is to explicitly crowdsource names out of your buyer base. This lets you be proactive about your model nickname technique whereas nonetheless making certain that these nicknames are genuinely created, shared, and owned by shoppers. For instance, the favored “Do us a taste” campaign from Lay’s invited shoppers to give you their very own names for brand spanking new chip flavors, giving them possession over the identify with out completely ceding management over the naming course of.

After all, many of those consumer-generated nicknames won’t ever achieve traction. However encouraging shoppers to give you names to your merchandise can plant the seeds of a profitable nickname. Even when 99% of those names are solely ever utilized by a handful of individuals, all you want is one to go viral for these seeds to develop into a real, widely-used nickname.


Model nicknames are solely rising extra well-liked amongst shoppers in at this time’s digital panorama. When utilized in the correct manner, these nicknames can confer beneficial “road cred” onto a model, making its messages seem extra genuine and credible to shoppers. As such, entrepreneurs can be sensible to maintain tabs on these nicknames and guarantee they’re legally protected — however it’s equally necessary for entrepreneurs to acknowledge that buyers are the true homeowners of those beneficial model property, and never try to manage or co-opt them. A widely known nickname is without doubt one of the biggest presents that buyers can provide to a model they love. It’s as much as entrepreneurs to not squander it.


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