When Honda wanted a name for its new luxury brand, it turned to NameLab Inc. Founder Ira Bachrach spoke with Special Correspondent Alysha Webb.
Honda told us, "The first thing somebody thinks about is, aha, this [luxury car] is a Honda. Then we lose the ability to earn the social premium that luxury brands earn. The first thing people should think about is German luxury cars."
We came up with a list of German luxury-car attributes. In those days it was engineering that made those cars special. We took engineering apart into its component ideas, which was mathematics, precision, metallurgy. We compiled a table of word elements which fit these components and made a list of names by adding prefixes and suffixes. The best one by far was Acura, from the Latin fragment acu, which means precisely in a mechanical sense. It also means point.
Honda presented the name and the positioning to the first 25 guys who bought Acura franchises. The first thing car dealers usually think of is "it probably means something horrible."
These guys, they looked at the name and they applauded. The reason they liked it was that it was the first in the phone directory if someone looked up car brands.