Choosing a brand name is one of the most exciting steps in starting a new business. Though many young entrepreneurs are not aware, choosing a strong brand can do you a lot of good and in this article we will give you some arguments for that, as well as useful tips for choosing a name for your business.
Why choosing a brand name is so important
A name is an extension of your brand, therefore it can reinforce the value your business provides to customers, or it can create a vague idea of your company and what you have to offer. Think about it that way – would you call a company with name, that’s catchy, memorable and made you an impression, or you would contact a company with no name, generic one, or one that doesn’t give you even the slightest idea what is the business about?
Here are some guiding questions to help you choose a brand name:
What does your business represent?
It would be of a great help for you to create a canvas for brainstorming, where you can write keywords, associations with your business, your values, even goals. Use a lot of adjectives and verbs to set a tone, vibe, feel for your brand. Discuss these ideas in groups. It is not a bad idea to form several teams and gather with your “results”. Here is a short example checklist you can use for your business:
- what’s your founder/s’ name? (for example, Merry&Cats)
- what do you do? (for example, selling chocolate – ChocoLoca)
- what is the experience from your service/product (for example, energizing, moving – Splash&Fresh)
- list feelings and qualities: modern, youthful, colorful, power, red, raw, expanding (for example, RoarYoung)
- list your values: reliability, good service, punctuality ( for example, Ticking Man)
- and… keep brainstorming!
You don’t have to be physically present to be able to brainstorm with your team – you can use tools such as Trello and GoogleDocs to share your ideas and work parallely, although shooting and crossing ideas at the same table is always the best for a creative process (and for choosing your brand name, respectively!)
What kind of name will work?
There are different categories of names, that you can focus on working with, depending on your business and the direction set from the previous step. Here they are:
Descriptive names are quite popular amongst businesses. If you are wondering what a descriptive brand name means, laywer Jill Hubbard Bowman gives a great definition about these category of names:
Immediately conveys an idea of the ingredients, qualities or characteristics of the goods or services
A few examples would be:
- All Bran cereal
- FlatRate Moving
- General Motors
- The Body Shop
The problem with choosing a brand name like this is that probably, have to beat a big competition with similar descriptive names and customers might have problems telling your brand apart from others.
Such is not the case of Holiday Inn, which started as descriptive name for inns, offering holidays. Now, customers associate this name with particular brand and service.
Usually, setting yourself apart from competition with this type of names takes time and efforts. Still, companies use descriptive brand names, because there are certain marketing benefits to a name describing a product.
Keywords: communicating, brand’s story
Many companies decide to make a word up, instead of describing their product. It is a very creative way to come up with a brand name, but it’s not always easy to invent one. Often, business use roots from foreign languages, Latin, etc. Still, it takes a great marketing effort to establish a meaning to these kind of names and to accustom users to it.
Some of the companies with invented names who were patient, persistent and created recognizable products are:
Keywords: personality, assign definition, establishment
This category is selfexplanatory. The tradition of naming a company after its founders is one of the oldest. Because of culture, heritage and other values, some business find this type of naming most appropriate. Back in the day, companies were not that many, so the owners were proud to offer products/services under their name. Eventhough not that popular naming nowadays, there are some widely recognized brand names, with successful positioning in their respective fields:
Here are some example of founder’s name that almost everyone is familiar with:
- Ralph Lauren
- DKNY (Donna Karan New York)
These names can be distinctive, but could require some marketing efforts to build equity (unless the founder is already famous). Other than that, these names should be relatively easy to trademark.
Keywords: culture, pride, tradition
Lawyers say it is hard to trademark brand name that only consists capital letters. It is also sometimes hard for customers to remember. Still, these facts didn’t harm big businesses such as:
This time of naming is often used for rebranding and not for start ups – businesses are already popular and the marketing strategy is to simplify the name or mask some qualities of the brand.
These brand names evoke metaphor and suggestion and offer an opportunity of creating a brand name bigger than just the goods it sells. These names are original, but abstract and need aligned marketing strategy, to make sure the convey clearly the message.
Great examples for evocative names are:
Keywords: originality, evoking, bigger than the product
What do you need to accomplish?
You know what your business is about. A step to accomplishing your goals is to determine what kind of name to develop from the categories above, to evaluate how this name will work with actual products/service and develop an objective criteria for choosing a name to go with.
May be, it will help to make some mock-ups with the name you chose, just to see how it scales, how it fits on stationery, products, etc. There are many free stock images, which you can use for your mock-ups!
Is it memorable?
Another important questions to ask yourself is if the name is memorable. We are constantly overloaded with information, and even if you came up with the most fanciest of names, if it is not easy to recall it… you failed…
Is the name already trademarked, URL available?
Choosing a brand name is exciting and when you find a name you like, it is crucial to check of it is available and to trademark it. It won’t be the first case, where your business has been around for several years, but failed to trademark the name, and someone does it at some point. That’s bad. You have to change your name, because you can be sued for using a name that is trademarked. You can easily check if the URL for a name you have in mind is free with Shopify’s business name generator. It gives you as well a handful of options, variations and suggestions based on the keyword you entered. Some experts believe that 99.9% of the dictionary is under registered domain name, which encourages you to check availability and to… be creative!
There are also some other things to keep in mind, when choosing a brand name:
Make a final brainstorming session
Use not only your friends for yes/no check of your list with suggestions for names. Try to make a brainstorming session with colleagues and people from different fields. Sometimes, the most unpredictable names get the most raised eyebrows and might be the best choice for your business! Remember – have to be memorable!
Test your choices for names
Don’t make it hard for people to remember your name or to reproduce it, because they probably won’t make the effort to do so. If you set a little traps on the way of remembering your name – like, your name can be misspelled or mispronounced, that will do you more harm then anything else. If you receive a phone call after a long day at work, what would you remember Demogoniqua or ExamplePoint, for example? Exactly our point here.
If you still feel unsure in your abillities of choosing a brand name, there are several companies that offer naming services:
There are also a bunch of other companies offering naming services, but somehow, they sound similar and can be easily confused:
- Lasting names
- Name One!
Choosing a brand name is not an easy task, but we hope this read gave you some good insights and directions to help you through the process. If you liked this article, stay tuned for our next one on Brand Name Generators – we will give you some tools that will help your brainstorming process.
A logical step after choosing a name is to start making your logo and create your corporate identity. You can see a collection we made about great cartoon logos and you can read about branding and identity. We are sure, they are snackable reads and pieces of useful info to help you get started with your brand strategy and development!