Growing up, I was the only Kristi I knew. I was never confused with another girl named Kristi (although they always spelled my name wrong). I also went to an EXTREMELY small school. I’m talking less than a few hundred, from K-12. Like most schools, favorites were definitely played when it came to certain things.
My elementary PE teacher, who was also the high school volleyball coach (yep, that small), gave me a nickname very early on: Yamaguchi. If you’re not familiar, Kristi Yamaguchi was a popular Olympic figure skater in the 90s. When you got a nickname, it meant you were a favorite.
Or so I thought.
Fast-forward to high school and volleyball season. I might have had a nickname, but wasn’t as much of a favorite as I’d hoped to be. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I worked hard and even earned a varsity spot my sophomore year. I never saw time on the court. The nickname was all in vain. I gave up my senior year and turned in my uniform after the first 3 games where I was still a benchwarmer while freshmen were getting play time like Steph Curry.
So why share this unhappy-ending childhood story?
Because unlike mine, your business’s nicknames can have a positive outcome, especially for your branding.
See if you can name the associating brand with its nickname:
How’d you do:
Some of these have learned to take them on as part of their branding. In fact, in Australia McDonald’s is nicknamed Macca’s. For their 40th anniversary in the country, they changed their signage for a short time.
Then there are those who try to keep it too formal. Back in the day, Chevrolet was said to treat its nickname like a cuss word within the company, even putting out “swear” jars around the office.
If your business was given a nickname, learn to embrace it (as long as it’s a positive one). Just like I wore Yamaguchi like a badge of honor, you should, too. A good nickname means that your customers see you as a good friend, makes your business more relatable, and creates a bond with those who use it, like a club. The ultimate goal of a great nickname is to become a household name.
Let’s not forget about brand names who have become associated with its product:
Kleenex (facial tissues)
Q-Tip (cotton swabs)
Crock-Pot (slow cookers)
Chapstick (lip balms)
Sharpie (permanent markers)
And that’s just a small sampling.
If you don’t have a nickname, don’t try to create one. Nicknames for a business, like one you’d give a friend, shouldn’t be forced. If someone you kinda know named Bob tries to get you to call him Bear without any context, it would be weird.
The most important thing about your business is that people know it and want to keep coming back to it. Nickname or not, it’s all about your reputation and staying on brand. Better to have a good reputation than a bad nickname - just ask Canadian Tire.
Thoughts from Me
Tips, advice, and more from my experience as a copywriter, marketer, and small business owner.