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The dangerous use of place names in brand naming: the case of Barcelona

According to the agency specialized in branding, Comuniza, the use of place names in naming it can become a double-edged sword for brands. We talk about legal issues, in some cases, but also image. The cultural and geographical implications of place names, especially in Spain, where diversity is very important, is a risk that companies should not ignore.

In the ABC of naming it appears that the name of a brand should be easy to remember, easy to pronounce and must convey company values. “A good name helps us differentiate ourselves from the competition and makes us memorable to consumers. Naming allows us to build a solid and coherent brand”, assures Javier Velilla, Managing Partner of Comuniza.

However, many companies venture to use place names to name their brands, which it can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help the brand to stand out and differentiate itself, but on the other hand, it can lead to legal and image problems.

“The use of place names in naming entails obvious risks of association. We have the case of Santander Bankwhich has eclipsed the Cantabrian city in terms of notoriety”, assures the branding expert.

In Spain, the use of place names in the naming of brands can be especially dangerous due to the diversity of the country. Each autonomy and region has its own culture, traditions and language, and place names can have different meanings depending on their location. Many are considered cultural heritage and are protected by law.

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“As in everything, there are cases in which these associations feed each other positively: it is the case of Patagonia with the Argentine region, a brand that sells mountain products whose association with the Fitz Roy hill”Velilla explains, “is that Argentina, like Spain, has obvious brand associations.”

Another important consideration is the potential infringement of intellectual property rights: many place names are registered trademarks or are protected by intellectual property law. Unauthorized use of a place name may result in copyright infringement and possible legal penalties.

The naming of a brand is a crucial decision for any company. The danger of cannibalization is always present and although it is possible to give a place name to a brand, it does not seem like a very good idea from the point of view of search engine indexing”closes the expert.

The case of Meta and the creation of its new app ‘Barcelona’

Meta has been working on the launch of a new app to compete directly with Twitter. The specialists have filtered a possible name that makes reference to the city of Barcelona. Barcelona would not be another social network independent from Facebook or Instagram, but rather one more tool that could be used by all people who have an Instagram account.

“In the case of Barcelona, ​​polysemy would also be complex, especially taking into account the possible impact on the .barcelona domain and on all the city’s SEO strategies.”, says Javier Velilla.

the new tool Barcelona It will allow a maximum of 500 characters per publication and opens the option of making threads, as is currently done on Twitter.

Barcelona has a strong brand, so it is more difficult to build own meanings that do not immediately take us to the city. In this case, it seems that Barcelona would be used as an alias until the business model of the social network is validated. In the case of Meta, they dressed in a ‘metaverse’ product descriptor naming and it turned out the other way around”concludes the expert.

The flexibility, permanence and memorability of the brand is closely related to the naming and other identity elements that guarantee solidity and coherence. Safeguarding the good name of brands is a challenge in a globalized society and in environments as connected as today’s.

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