Is Having a Name Still Important to Branding?

what if your brand didn't have a name?

The rules of branding have changed considerably over the decades, but could something as basic as a name really become optional?

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We haven’t had a chance yet to visit The Bachelor Farmer’s daytime cafe—or whatever the public will decide to call it. The fare is probably great, and its location will no doubt be a boon.

But as a brand marketing and advertising agency, some of us at DKY couldn’t resist the temptation to sound off on something we read in the StarTribune this week. Rick Nelson’s profile of a new cafe in the North Loop reveals a few interesting details about the establishment, not the least of which is the fact that it doesn’t have a name, but rather a series of four simple icons.

Owner Eric Dayton elucidated (kind of) on the reasoning behind this decision. He asked their design firm to provide, “a visual identity that isn’t a new name or a new brand. That’s where the four icons come from.”

Even in 2016 that’s fairly progressive. But then again, maybe things like business names are becoming so last year.

It was Dayton’s next sentence, however, that hit closer to home here in the Squirrel’s Nest. He went on to explain that, “We’re not trying to be Prince here, we’re not trying to be cute, we just didn’t want to have to develop a new brand.”

“…we just didn’t want to have to develop a new brand.”

That’s something you don’t hear every day.

Was Mr. Dayton being coy? Was he hinting at something the rest of us will only understand months from now? Was this deliberate act of brand neglect in fact the epitome of brand-building? Or was he simply being real? (Building a brand, it should be noted, is neither quick nor easy.)

You make the call. In the meantime, here are the personal reflections of a few DKY staff members who are never short on opinions when it comes to building and maintaining strong brands:

“Humans communicate with words. Where does his mail go? How does he do taxes? Sounds like awesome food, but what do I type into Google to get me there?”

“Seems like they’re trying to out-hipster all other hipsters.”

“It might work. More likely it’ll draw people in from the nearby community only, which may be as much business as they want or need. But it’ll be hard for people outside the community to say, ‘Hey, let’s go to that place with the X, circle, heart and coffee mug!’ Good luck finding the hours and location online.”

“Allowing the cafe’s name to emerge organically is kind of like building a campus without sidewalks, allowing footpaths to emerge, then formalizing the paths that the users created with paved sidewalks. A name will emerge, but they won’t be in the driver’s seat in determining the moniker, which I think is a lost opportunity.”

What do you think? Keep the conversation going on Twitter.

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