“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo & Juliet II, ii, 1-2.
The importance of branding
Since I started my blog and was asked to come up with ideas for a domain name, I have been pondering this issue. Moreover, how does a brand become and remain successful at selling Adult toys and lingerie? In addition, how well do they engage with their target market / audience?
Exhibit 1, case in point, is the brand Lovehoney. It’s one I go to time and again since my sexual reawakening. I say reawakening, as I believe I was a sexual person prior to discovering Lovehoney and being on the contraceptive pill. These desires just got put to sleep by artificial hormones and a somewhat unexciting sex-life.
But back to the question on naming. Lovehoney as a title for a brand suggests flowery romance, and cute couples trying fun new things together. That’s part of the clever marketing that attracted me to buy from them. The website displays young beautiful couples, enjoying themselves. The lingerie caters for all. There are demure baby dolls and chemises, to more overtly ‘sexual’ crotch-less teddies and body-stockings. In addition, they stock fetish wear and role-play costumes for the more kinky and adventurous.
Then there are the toys; vibrators and dildos for single ladies and also couples to enjoy. Similarly, the male masturbators and prostate / anal* toys to be enjoyed by men (*anal toys can of course be thoroughly enjoyed by women!) There are novelty items, such as candy bras and G-strings, cloning kits and chocolate willies. The playful items like ‘ring for sex’ bell, sexy dice, lovers’ chequebooks and IOUs…
Global reach of sex retailers
All these items wouldn’t be successful if they did not have the right company name and branding behind them. Moreover, online retailers such as Lovehoney lend themselves to the ability to reach global audiences at any time of day from numerous devices.
Via online fora, ‘community members’ can discuss and debate the merits of certain toys over others. Which rabbit gives the best combined stimulation? Which butt plug will stimulate the prostate? Are the vibrations buzzy or rumbly on this toy? How fierce are these nipple clamps? There are so many things to consider when buying sex toys and it is a growing industry with new retailers appearing all the time, particularly online.
So from looking at Lovehoney alone, it seems that toys and the company branding need to appeal to women, men, couples, singles, lesbian /gay,bisexual, transgender, young, middle-aged and older target markets to enjoy the success of a multinational retailer. As well as the name, the company tagline also needs to have gravitas with the consumer.
Taglines, boxes, and technical toys
Take Tantus’ tagline for example; Good Clean Fun. This states that Tantus wish to provide toys that are good quality and enable the user to experience safe enjoyment that’s fun enough to repeat with future purchases. I’m unsure of the origin of the name Tantus. At a guess, I would suggest it’s an amalgamation of Tantalise Us. This infers it is inclusive of all; irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, age, race or creed. The need for sexual fulfilment is a biological drive innate in each of us. It can wax and wane according to our stage in life, events happening to us / around us, and how we relate to our partners. Perhaps even more significantly, how we relate to ourselves.
The toy packaging needs to reflect the company’s values and ethos. Tantus achieve this by using white glossy cardboard boxes with contemporary styling. Large plastic mouldings encase the toys, letting them ‘speak for themselves’. When I see my iridescent purple Charmer dildo through the plastic casing, I think, “that’s an attractive phallus! The quality looks reassuring that this toy will last me through the decades, as I acquire more toys. Some of which may not stand the test of time, heaven forbid I drop a glass dildo!”.
As another case in point, Fun Factory promotes cutting-edge toys that excite and are innovative. This is clear from their packaging; sleek gold boxes with outer sleeves that show the toys in their Technicolor glory or a ‘fun’ scenario, such as a bartender shaking a cocktail (cue the Jiggle Bouncer dildo). I owned one of their rabbits (the Amorino), which sadly despite looking fabulous was not to my genitalia’s liking. The shaft was just too short; the ears did nothing for my clitoris, which for me is the ‘orgasmic mothership’. Fail to embark on that, and you just plummet back to Earth! The one cool thing about this toy was that it had magnetic contacts for USB charging! Despite this toy not making the cut, I am interested in trying other Fun Factory toys, as they look so well-designed.
A name isn’t everything
We’ve looked at the good, but what about the not-so-good? I’m not about naming and shaming here, but there are companies that still use materials that aren’t completely body safe; porous materials that harbour bacteria and smells. Very unpleasant not to mention unhygienic…just ew! In addition, their names and branding may not be very appealing nor inclusive…images of pretty young girls suggest that some toys are only for younger women, whilst other images are bordering on pornographic – bleurgh! Then there is the packaging that is just dull, and not very exciting. Like something printed off a HP connected to an IBM in someone’s home office!
To round up, a name needs to appeal to a wide target market, inclusive of all orientations, creeds, and ages. The tagline needs to reaffirm the retailer’s values and ethos. Lastly, packaging needs to be firmly in keeping with these themes. It needs to reflect the object’s USP (unique selling point), whether it is luxury, innovation or keeping things fun. I’m hoping the name BreakTheBed.com as a domain for a new adult online retailer will not just imply the obvious, i.e. sex so good that you literally ‘break the bed!’ But I hope it will also be seen metaphorically – breaking the sometimes societal-imposed constraints that sex is just for the bedroom. Moreover, to promote and support the many forms of sex, including heterosexual, gay/ lesbian, bisexual, polyamory, and transgender. After all, we all desire good sex, and good sex can help with having good health / well-being.
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****Update March 2017****
Break the Bed sadly did not take off but I was happy to be involved in this ‘project’ although short-lived.