Votary: From brand strategy to naming architecture

Charlotte Semler and Arabella Preston, the founders of Votary, laid out 5 small green glass bottles on the table in front of them. Each contained a different oil from their new range of luxury cosmetics. On each, was an unmarked label. The question was, what should we write on them?

We had clarified the brand strategy: we knew that Votary should feel like a private consultation with Arabella. The question was how to communicate this strategy through the product naming architecture.

Verbs beat nouns. Even as names.

When we looked at the challenge through the lens of linguistics, the answer was simple: we had to use verbs. Most product names just use nouns – ‘cleanser’, ‘moisturiser’, ‘toner’. But when an expert like Arabella gives you advice, she uses imperative verbs, in phrases like ‘clean your skin’, ‘smooth your skin’, and ‘renew your skin’. We used these verb phrases to create simple, meaningful and different product names.

We also analysed naming architectures of competitors’ brands to establish the linguistic cues for the category. We noticed that brands consistently focused on the ingredients in their product names. In particular, the specificity of their ingredients were a symbol of their luxury status (‘Rose Maroc’, ‘Calendula’).

We combined these two elements to create Votary’s naming architecture.

Better than we can say it