When it comes to brand identity the foundation stone for your business is your brand name. It’s not just something that looks good on your business card or website, it should also communicate something important about your brand to your customers.
What is a brand name?
It is the key signifier of your brand and the principal means through which customers will differentiate your brand from the competition.
What makes a good brand name?
There is no single magic formula to making a great brand name that helps your goods and services stand out from the competition but there are a number of common traits that can help to make your brand name more memorable and ultimately effective.
Firstly, your name should be meaningful, helping to distil the essence of your brand while conjuring an image and encouraging a positive emotional connection. It should, of course, be distinctive, unique and memorable, particularly in relation to your immediate competition.
It should work visually and should be easy to communicate through the choice of design, logos and colours.
It shouldn’t be too confusing, allowing people to easily interpret what it means, say it and spell it out. How can your customers Google you if they’re unsure how to spell your brand name?
Your brand name should be able to grow with your business while staying relevant. It should be easy to adapt for different products and brand extensions.
Finally, to avoid any issues further down the line, it should be protectable, meaning that nobody else can use it.
Choosing a brand name for your business
Bearing all of the above in mind it can seem that choosing the right brand is a complicated and daunting task. The costs involved in establishing your brand mean that changing your brand name is difficult and sometimes unrealistic. So it’s important to try and get it right the first time.
You may have a strong idea for your brand name from the beginning, or you may be short on ideas and need a bit of inspiration. Either way, it’s important to approach the process in a systematic manner to reduce the risk of your brand name falling short.
You’re likely to have to live with your brand name for a considerable time so being as thorough as possible now will reduce the risk of needing to repeat the process in the near or medium term.
Here are 8 steps you should take to help your find the right brand name for your business. And remember, there are only 5 ways you can name a brand.
Step1: Brand Purpose, Mission, Vision & Values
Your brand name should not only reflect your brand but should encapsulate its values. In order for your brand name to do this, you first need to think about your overall purpose, mission, vision and values. Without this essential groundwork, your brand name is likely to fall short.
While everyone hopes to make money from their business, it’s rarely the main motivating factor for starting a company. Think about the purpose of your business, what you want to achieve and what you feel it can offer that the competition can’t.
What is your mission, how do you want to impact your chosen marketplace? Are you offering something new and innovative, or perhaps you want to improve the delivery of a product or service. Think about what you’re here to do and how you envision the future.
What are the values and principles that are guiding your behaviour? Perhaps it’s a new approach to customer service or greater sustainability? Or maybe you want to make a particular product more accessible or contribute to the regeneration of your community?
Answering all of these questions as fully as possible will help you make a better brand name choice. Taken together, these can be thought of as the heart of your brand and your brand name should communicate that brand heart to your target audience.
Step 2: Online tools to grow your list
So you understand your brand heart and now need to come up with some potential names from which to choose your brand name. If you’re all out of ideas there are a number of tools online that use algorithms to suggest potential names. These are a great place to start and can give you something to build on.
Here are three of them:
Wordoid is a basic business name generator. It takes a word or partial word of your choice then inserts or fuses it into other bits of words to create something original.
The best brand names often arise out of common everyday phrases and idioms. These have the advantage of being familiar and memorable. You can tweak idioms and phrases via the Idiom tool of FreeDictionary.
BrandRoot provides a brand naming service based on a single keyword search related to your business. It will generate unique names, but in most cases, these are unlikely to truly reflect your brand. Brand name generators like BrandRoot can, however, be a good place to start and may give you inspiration or inform your thinking.
Step 3: Competitor Inspiration
Take a look at the brand names of your competitors. Are they something that you want to imitate to some degree, or are you considering a radical break with what’s usually expected within your particular industry?
If it’s the latter then this is likely to be a reflection of your overall brand mission and will be supported by a deeper brand strategy. If, on the other hand, you want to give your target audience something familiar, then you may want to imitate successful existing competitors to some degree, differentiating yourself on quality, price or customer service.
The brand names of your competitors should provide inspiration, but it’s always important to consider how you hope your own brand will relate to those competitors and the market space you expect to fill.
Step 4: Brainstorm
Brainstorming ideas should be a key part of any brand name generation process. Thinking creatively about potential brand names shouldn’t just be left to company owners but should be shared among different employees and also potential customers.
What do they expect from a company that intends to provide the goods and services that you are offering? Gather together as many stakeholders as you can to help inform the process.
Brainstorming sessions should be structured if they are to be effective, with a range of guidelines and constraints to help guide the process.
There are a range of exercises that you might wish to try:
Write down all the adjectives that describe your product or service, and then describe what you want your customers to feel when they use them. You can then begin a free association of words about your products and services.
Brand names are sometimes divided into names that are based on the founder, such as Ben & Jerry’s, descriptive, fabricated, metaphors, acronyms, or a Magic Spell which is a portmanteau of two words, such as Facebook. Try to come up with a brand name for each category.
Step 5: Add your personality
By now you should have a range of potential names from which to choose. The final step before creating your shortlist is to add your own personality. Which of the names in your longlist already express the personality of your brand, and, if appropriate, its founders?
Are there some that may be modified and are there any that you can discount at this stage because they are unlikely to ever reflect your personality?
Remember, you have to live with your brand name for some time, so it’s important to make sure that it fits with your brand personality and won’t jar either with customers or the people who work within your business.
Once you’ve done this, narrow down your list of names until you have a viable shortlist. While this needs to be focused, it’s important not to make the list too short in case the names are not available or might be legally dubious.
Step 6: Check availability of shortlisted brand names/legal checks
After the creative part of brand name generation has been completed, there comes a potentially frustrating step, but one that cannot be avoided. Each brand name on your list needs to be checked to make sure that it’s not already being used and isn’t trademarked.
Check each brand name on your list to see if it’s currently available. You can check if it’s currently trademarked by using the government search for trademark tool.
As well as looking for existing trademarks, make sure you conduct a thorough Google search of your brand name to find out if it’s being used anywhere in the world. Whereas a brand name that exists in a jurisdiction beyond where you intend to operate won’t stop you from using it, it does mean that your name won’t be truly unique and might create confusion. This is particularly the case if your name or something similar is shared by a company offering the same goods or services.
Step 7: Test names with branding material
The next step is to see how your brand name fits in with your branding material. If it’s too long or complex, it might overrun the available space. The design and colour options you had in mind might not work with your name, or sometimes it might simply not scan right when viewed on your products.
Your brand name will need to work right across your branding material, from websites to letterheads, business cards and online advertising. As creative and clever you think your brand name is, if it doesn’t work on your company materials, then it won’t work with your customers.
Step 8: Futureproof
The final step is to ensure that your brand name is going to stand the test of time. With the future so uncertain, this can be the hardest part of choosing a brand name, but it’s important to run through a few potential scenarios to reduce the risk of your name becoming obsolete or a burden in the future.
Is your name too tied to current trends and idioms, and might those soon look dated? What can seem clever and a-la-mode now might not seem so smart in a few years’ time.
Will your name allow your business to develop and grow, perhaps even away from its initial mission into something new? Amazon started out as purely an online bookshop but has evolved into a global one-stop-shop for almost every kind of product. Their deliberate choice of an ambiguous name has aided this process.
Your name should stick and be memorable. A clever name that is hard for customers to remember is unlikely to last without holding back your business. Ensure your name is easy to remember.
With business being increasingly global it’s important to think beyond your local market. Will your brand name allow you to develop beyond your home country and make sense in other languages and cultures? If you’re hoping to trade with another country but your brand name is confusing or even offensive in that location, then you will need to think again.
Get started with Dawn Creative
There is nothing more important to your business success than branding. Dawn Creative’s leading brand services can help you create a brand that delivers results and guide you through the 5 ways to name a brand.
Wherever you are in your branding process we can help. Call 0161 7110910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.