When it comes to branding, a rose by any other name does NOT smell as sweet. In fact, it can stink like dead fish at low tide. Your brand name helps you put a face on your business, differentiates you in the marketplace and can be instrumental in making you the talk of the town.
A new business or product is like a baby. You conceived the idea. You’ll nurture it through its life. And if you’re like most business leaders, you have big hopes and dreams for its future.
Brand naming should be created with care. Just as you poured through 18,007 names for your child, before settling on “Blanket,” you need to make sure your brand name is meaningful, adds a symbol to your story, is memorable, easy to understand, yet versatile enough to grow with your business.
I’ve got some very strong opinions on brand naming, from how you find the best one, to what the most effective style and approach is. For all the details check out my new ebook:
A step-by-step ebook on brand naming.
In the meantime, your first step to finding a great brand name is:
1) Think before you name. Whether you hire an agency or brainstorm business names on your own, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Are you naming a company, product, service or event?
- What is the purpose of your business?
- What is the expected life of the name?
- Will it be used only in the United States or will it go global?
- (Remember that the world has changed. Today, global can mean on the internet.)
- Who is your customer?
- What are you promising your customer?
- Who are your competitors, and what names are they using?
- What is your price point?
- Where do you hope to be? Where do you want to be positioned within your business category?
- What kind of personality are you trying to convey?
2) Now, start making a list of root possibilities. WRITE THEM DOWN. Then, put them down and pick up the list a few days later and explore variations, try combining some of the best ideas, shortening some or even rearrange them.
3) From here, explore the best naming formula for your situation.
Here are a few to get you started. For a comprehensive list of naming formulas see: Go for it! Name your business.
Alliteration — Peter Piper Picked A Pen Name
One way to make sure your name is catchy is to begin words with the same letter or sound — Coca-Cola, Krispy Kreme.
Onomatopoeia — Sound It Out!
Some businesses use names with words that imitate the sounds with which their business is associated — Sizzler Steakhouse, for instance.
Acronyms — Think Like A Texter
Anyone with a teenager in their life knows the most popular texting phrases like OMG (Oh, my God) and TTYL (Talk To You Later). Anyone who’s spent half a second in the corporate world knows that they, too, love their acronyms — HR (Human Resources), PR (Public Relations) and ROI (Return On Investment). Consumers like their acronyms, too.
Abbreviating — Clip Off the End of a Word
One popular naming technique is to shorten words, similar to the way words can be truncated to create slang. Not too long ago, a college kid might order a “za with shrooms.” Translated, that meant a pizza with mushrooms. Companies form names using that same technique. Clip off the end of a word so that it stands alone, or joins another word or clipped word. Some examples include FedEx, CompuServe, Intel and Intuit.
Arbitrary Names — Think Apples and Oranges
Another technique, which definitely falls in the abstract category, is to choose an arbitrary name for your business. Take the Apple Computer, for instance. An arbitrary name has no connection to what your business is about. While this is a controversial technique, there are naming experts that think the most important quality of your new company or product is that it be memorable. A computer named after a piece of fruit definitely fits the bill!
4) Do your research. This is where brand naming gets complicated.
- Is there open space for you in your business category? This means is your name open to be trademarked in your class of operations?
- And is it available in cyber world too?
No matter which route you take, what style, what formula, for me, awesome names cover the 3 A’s
- They attract attention (they standout)
- They are admired (likeable to the mind, eye and ear)
- They are aligned to the core brand values of the product or organization
For a variety of reasons, here are few of my all time favorites names.
Brain Tattoo Branding (OK, I’m bias, I still love that name)
What are some of yours?