NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Many of today's popular liquor brands got their names from their founders or owners: Bacardi, after Catalan Spanish-Cuban businessman Facundo Bacardi; Campari from the drink's Italian inventor, Gaspare Campari; and Hennessy, after the Irish cognac distillery founder, Richard Hennessy.Not so with Mount Gay Rum. The world's oldest rum brand -- and Barbados' most successful export -- got its name not from its owner, but from its owner's trusted friend, Sir John Gay Alleyne.
Mainwaring, a former Nike creative at Wieden & Kennedy and worldwide creative director for Motorola at Ogilvy, notes that the process of creating a unique and memorable name takes around six weeks. Time must be taken to define what the company stands for, and then it has to be boiled down to a simple idea and, finally, communicated in emotional terms. Another important step -- not a factor in the early days when Mount Gay Rum was born -- is to test the brand name with different types of audiences and explore whether the necessary domain names are available. Mainwaring says that, for a brand name to be successful, it needs to be memorable. It might be an unusual combination of otherwise familiar words or sound interesting due to sharp, crisp consonants or alliteration. Either way, a brand name always faces the challenge of clearly communicating what a company does. Google ( GOOG) is a good example of a memorable brand name. In fact, it's so powerful that it's now more than a brand -- it's a verb. "Google became a verb not on the strength of the word but on the value of its products and services," says Mainwaring. "And so the word and verb is now a household name." Other brand names he considers memorable are Virgin, Twitter and Amazon. " Virgin ( VMED) is powerful because it has a shock value that is in perfect keeping with the maverick style of the brand," Mainwaring explains. " Twitter is effective because it's unusual and captures the tone and fun of the chatter it enables. Amazon ( AMZN) brought with it powerful associations that were positive and spoke to the seemingly endless variety of goods it offered."