Brexit: The Most Viral Brand Name of the Last 12 Months

Global Fame Came from the Name

With the right messaging, it’s amazing how much attention you can capture in a short period of time.

Think back to a year ago.  In mid February 2016, the date of the upcoming U.K. referendum had not yet been set.  Outside of Great Britain only political keeners had more than a vague awareness of the vote.

In just a few months that had all changed.  The referendum on whether the U.K. should remain in or leave the European Union was known to all.  And not just in Britain and Europe where the outcome would have an impact on everyday life.

Worldwide, the vote became a hot topic for millions of distant bystanders, even though for them it was devoid of any practical consequence.

Why Such Intense Interest?

Why did the referendum generate such intense interest?  Certainly the question of Britain’s membership in the EU is an important political, social and economic issue.  And it was given massive amounts of news coverage both leading up to and following the June 23rd vote.  But there are many significant issues that get immense media play and quickly fade from memory.

What made the U.K. referendum so mind-riveting and the topic of millions of conversations?

The Name Made All the Difference

The name did it.  Actually, to be more precise, the nickname did it.

The official title of the vote was “The European Union Referendum.”  It was a formal, predictable, and rather benign sounding description.  And it was extremely long, comprised of 4 words, 11 syllables, 26 letters.

The Qualities of an Exceptionally Viral Name

Brexit on the other hand is powerful, edgy and provocative.  It has all the qualities of an exceptionally viral name.

By combining the BR of Britain with EXIT, it gets right to the essence of issue.  Would Britain be in or out?  Should it stay or should it go?

Brexit is easy to remember, easy to say and instantly repeatable.  It drives curiosity and has a biting visceral quality.  Brexit feels familiar, but at the same time is a bit unexpected, which is a powerful combination to claim a place in the mind.

Perhaps most importantly, in our 140 character Twitter world, where every keystroke counts, Brexit is short.  A single word, just 2 syllables and 6 letters.

Easier to Write, Talk & Think About

As soon as Brexit took hold as the de facto title for The European Union Referendum, it instantly became easier to write about, talk about and think about.  Brexit went viral.  It made a complex international political issue highly contagious.

A Simple Bite-sized Identity

Brexit was boom for the media.  It was a one-word, two-syllable, six-letter gift for every journalist who had to write about the referendum, every newscaster who had to talk about it and every editor who had to craft a punchy headline.

Brexit gave the referendum what every complex idea and high tech product desperately needs to become known and talked about: a simple bite-sized identity.

Long Names Have Low Impact

Long uninspiring names like The European Union Referendum are barriers to engagement.  They get ignored.  Passed over.  The ideas or products they represent never get known or talked about.  They only attract a small audience and make a small impact.

Consider this deep space example.  In the early 1960s, a handful of elite astronomers began discussing a rather abstract but fascinating phenomenon, Totally Compressed Gravitational Objects.  Only that handful of astronomers knew or cared.  But as soon as the Totally Compressed Gravitational Object name changed to Black Hole, the entire world cared.

A decade later two Washington Post reporters investigated a series of break-ins and political dirty tricks.  It was only after these seemingly unrelated incidents were pulled together under the single name of Watergate that their revelations gathered enough attention and power to oust a president from office.

Brexit, Black Hole and Watergate quickly attained global recognition and became permanent parts of language.

How Do Your Company & Product Names Stack Up?

Think about your company and product names.  Do they have more in common with The European Union Referendum, Totally Compressed Gravitational Objects and a series of break-ins and political dirty tricks, or Brexit, Black Hole and Watergate?

Even the most ground-breaking products can fail in the market if they come across as too complex, technical or difficult to understand.  If you develop a revolutionary product but send it to market with a long uninspiring name, you’ll continually struggle to gain attention and generate any buzz.  You’ll undermine or ever sabotage your success.

Exceptionally viral names like Brexit are easy to recognize but extremely difficult to create.

Need Guidance? Call for Help.

If you need professional guidance for naming a new product, contact me to schedule a coffee or phone conversation.  It will be a solid first step to giving your product the viral appeal of Brexit.