How to Develop Brand Names in a Disruptive Category

How to Develop Brand Names in a Disruptive Category

By Kate Sexton, Research and Behavioral Economics, & Kennedy Placek, Director of Business Development

The future of automotive is unfolding today – and fast.  New and established players are launching electric vehicles and related technology (autonomous driving features, EV charging stations, batteries etc.), creating an entirely new ecosystem. Legacy brands are producing EVs to keep up with consumer interest and government regulations, while new, eager brands are hungry for a chance to stand out in this emerging sector. At Lexicon, we believe brand names are a strategic imperative for players in the automotive industry. With more credentials in this industry than any other agency, Lexicon is uniquely experienced to make this claim and support automotive brands as they navigate an evolving industry.

As consumer interest in electric vehicles (EV) develops and the push to limit global carbon emissions intensifies, the rise of EV sales will continue to see tremendous growth, while internal combustion engines (ICEs) will fade into the past. This transition from the ICE age towards an EV revolution is not just occurring in the United States, either. At least 15 nations have pledged to eliminate ICEs by 20351, while the two largest automakers in the world, Toyota and Volkswagen, have pledged a combined $250 billion toward the production of EVs and battery programs by 2030 2. Similarly, Jaguar and Volvo plan to sell only battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hybrids from as early as 2025 2. What started as a relatively limited space dominated by few players (Toyota, Prius, and Tesla), will soon be overrun with a full team of EV leaders, each wanting a chance to dominate the fleet. Not to mention, the autonomous technology features that will come with new EVs will further contribute to this clutter 3.

At the dawn of EV production, we saw many brands release cars with names appealing to the eco-friendly benefits of a non-gasoline vehicle (take the Nissan LEAF or the Chevy Volt, for example). This is largely because automotive manufacturers had to sell a concept, not just a car 3. The motivation behind consumer interest in EVs is no longer solely due to a desire to be green. Consumers are subject to psychological motivations like adhering to social norms 4 and acceptance.5  And, with the imminent ban of ICE vehicles, the need to brand your EV as carbon-neutral or environmentally safe won’t be as crucial, because there simply won’t be another option. These elements greatly expand the naming potential and opportunity for EVs.

So what’s the takeaway here? Emerging and existing brands in this industry need distinct, breakthrough names to generate interest and early market share. Creating distinctive names in a disruptive and evolving category is one of Lexicon’s specialties. Over the last 40 years, we’ve created some of the world’s most iconic automotive brands including Lucid Motors (winner of the prestigious 2022 MotorTrend Car of the Year award), Subaru’s Outback & Forester, Nissan’s Rogue, and Mercedes-Benz’s Metris.  Lexicon’s experience extends beyond vehicles into automotive technology as well – ClearMotion (formerly Levant Power), the world’s first ultra-active chassis system (smart shock absorber) and TruckLabs (formerly XStream Trucking) which develop green logistics technologies for trucking companies . With the automotive market ripe with opportunity, having a trusted, industry-leading agency on your side is a game-changer.

With roughly 14,000 automotive trademarks filed in 2022 so far in the US and forecasts predicting that battery electric vehicles (BEVS) will account for one-fifth of global light vehicle sales in 2022, there is no debate that EVs are the (quite near) future. For four decades, Lexicon has successfully completed more than 3,500 projects across categories in over 22 countries.

The time to develop a new, compelling automotive brand is now – and there is no other agency better poised for this opportunity than Lexicon. If you’re in the category or interested in entering it, reach out to our automotive group (email

1 Arora, et al., “Why Electric Cars Can’t Come Fast Enough,” Boston Consulting Group Publications,

2 Niese, et al., “Electric Cars Are Finding Their Next Gear,” Boston Consulting Group Publications,

3 Rohrer, “Electric car names: Why an Ampera or a Leaf?”

4 “Why do we follow the behavior of others?” The Decision Lab,

5 “Why do we support opinions as they become more popular?” The Decision Lab,