Naming can make or break a brand. Along with the investment risk, a temporary name change has the potential to alienate an established audience and reduce brand value, but there’s also the undeniable opportunity for success.

The reason to change a name will be specific to the marketing objective of the campaign, but a common driver is to create the element of surprise which forces us to rethink our existing biases or associations with the brand as a result.

Change gets you noticed, and the bigger the change, the more attention it gathers. Changing your name, however briefly, is a pretty big change. Each of the following campaigns received significant attention, not to mention the free exposure, because of a name change.

For each of the examples, along with the objectives & touch points, we have highlighted the behavioural economic technique at play.

Pasta Hut


Several Pizza Hut locations in the UK and one in Dallas changed their names to Pasta Hut as part of a marketing effort to promote the chain’s new line of Tuscani Pastas. CMO of Pizza Hut UK explained that the name change was, “a bit of a shock tactic to get people to feel differently about Pizza Hut.”

Marketing objective – new product promotion

Audience touch points – signage

Lead behavioural economics technique – priming

Pizza Hut's name change, via The Telegraph

Beyond Petroleum


With a business diversify objective to explore solar and wind power, British Petroleum launched a £200m marketing campaign aimed at getting consumers to view the oil giant as being environmentally friendly. This included a temporary name change to Beyond Petroleum.

Marketing objective – promote brand values (sustainability)

Audience touch points – website

Lead behavioural economics technique – priming

Beyond Petroleum campaign

FCK


When KFC ran a full-page print ad in The Sun and Metro, it was part of a highly publicised, somewhat bizarre crisis in the UK. The fast food joint, known for its fried chicken, had run out of chicken. KFC apologised with a creative stunt: rearranging its name to spell FCK.

Marketing objective – public apology (laugh it off)

Audience touch points – press

Lead behavioural economics technique – framing

KFC's FCK print ad

John Louis


Retail giant John Lewis was keen to show the world that it was euphoric about the birth of the British royal baby – Louis Arthur Charles.

Marketing objective – audience relevance

Audience touch points – social media

Lead behavioural economics technique – priming

John Louis logo

Salt & Linker, Cheese & Owen


Leveraging their association with football, on three occasions Walkers crisps have renamed selected flavours to Salt & Linker, Cheese & Owen and Vardy Salted.

Marketing objective – audience relevance

Audience touch points – packaging

Lead behavioural economics technique – bizarreness effect

Walkers packaging campaign

Burger Queen


To celebrate her majesty’s birthday in 2016, the Tottenham Court Road branch transformed into the Burger Queen for the day. The company repeated the transformation in 2017 for International Women’s Day.

Marketing & PR objective – audience relevance

Audience touch points – signage & social media

Lead behavioural economics technique – representativeness

Image Credit: Burger King paid tribute to the Queen

Larazade


The association is the focus of a massive promotional push by Lara’s drink of choice, Lucozade, which is riding the wave of hype surrounding this summer’s must-see movie spin-off, Tomb Raider.

Marketing & PR objective – audience relevance

Audience touch points – packaging & website

Lead behavioural economics technique priming

Image Credit: Lucozade’s Larazade packaging

America


In the 2016 summer Olympics, as the America’s Cup race and the fall elections approached, many Americans in America were feeling especially American—which is apparently what prompted Budweiser, the most American of American beverages, to change is name to – America!

Marketing & PR objective – audience relevance

Audience touch points – packaging

Lead behavioural economics technique priming

Budweiser's "America" name change

Whether you’re looking for a long-term name change or rebrand to create a buzz, we have the expertise to guide you in the most effective way. Get in touch

By Max McLaren

Account Manager