“X and Y” brand names (brand names in the style of “___ and ___”) are everywhere. This construction has been around for a while—think Johnson & Johnson, Ben & Jerry’s, Abercrombie & Fitch—but lately you can’t stroll a mall or browse online without running into “and,” “+,” or “&,” particularly in apparel and food and beverage.
Big players like Walmart, Target, and Amazon are all following this style for recent apparel brand launches:
- Walmart: Time and Tru, Terra & Sky
- Target: Ava & Viv
- Amazon: Scout + Ro, Lark & Ro, James & Erin, Franklin & Freeman
A name-generating website for hipster businesses has even sprung up to satirize the trend. So, why is this style popular? What’s so great about “X & Y” (or “X and Y” or “X + Y”) names?
Because the Catchword team loves to investigate trends in naming, and to help brands decide whether to steer clear or follow the crowd, we looked into the “and” naming style and found ten reasons it’s a strong one.
- X + Y = love. Paired names suggest family, friendship, affection. As we know from Pavlov, behavior can be conditioned, so a customer’s association of a brand name with affection is likely to generate at least a little extra warmth toward the brand.
- X + Y is a memorable formula. Simple formulas offer a framework that makes it easier to remember a name, especially when it is on the longer side.
- Two for one. A pair of names enables you to convey two messages or enrich one. James & Erin offers apparel for both men and women. Two words also means greater opportunity for repeated consonant and vowel sounds, which in turn increases memorability. Time and Tru, Franklin & Freeman, Ava & Viv.
- The rhythmic “and.” Natural rhythms make names easier to remember. Say the brand names above aloud. Now say them without “and.” QED
- Sophisticated retro-hipness. Pairing unrelated things in a name recalls an old English pub, or a new artisanal gastropub (see name-generating website above). It also recalls a time when companies were named after the founders (Lord & Taylor), suggesting tradition, accountability, and authenticity.
- Trademark. Joining two distinct and unrelated words together makes trademark acquisition much simpler.
- Domain name. The exact domain name is more likely to be available, and for less money.
- Suggests collaboration. Brands want customers to feel like they can easily engage and connect with the brand.
- Cool, graphic characters. Punctuation and symbols (like “&” and “+”) can help make a brand name more fun and memorable. More graphic options means more ways to visually express your brand message and personality.
- Critical mass of the above qualities. When consumers start to connect a style of name with certain qualities, more brand names appear to leverage those associations, which then reinforces the expectations, and on and on.
Erin Milnes is Creative Director at Catchword, a trusted leader in naming with two decades of experience creating memorable and impactful names for clients worldwide.