Choosing Brand Name – How To Come Up With A Good One
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NOTE: A brand name is not only something that increases your business card’s attractiveness or simply something that is fun to say. Similarly, it is not the best because you like it; a great brand name actually communicates something to the consumers.
In The Brand Gap; Marty
Nevertheless, coming up with the right brand name is a challenging task. As such, the million-dollar question is, how do you find a name that works for you? A name that is catchy? A name that is not only great for a website banner but has an available URL. There are some people who say this is easy; the only thing they need is a name generating tool and that is it. Others say that it is nearly impossible; but with a million dollar, they can do it for you.
Well, depending on your brand needs and budget, you can choose either (no judgment). However, experience has taught us that finding the right name for you is very possible. It all takes a bit of deep thinking and research.
What Makes A Good Brand Name?
There are many findings and the theories on what makes a good name. One of the findings comes from the University of Alberta; a research conducted back in 2010. The research showed that consumers react positively to brand names that have repetitive structures such as Kit Kat, Coca-Cola, and Jelly Belly.
Even though there isn’t any proven formula, there are few common characteristics that make names easier to remember as well as easy for you to use. Therefore, you will need a name that is:
• Meaningful: A meaningful names invokes an image, communicates brand essence, and cultivates positive emotions.
• Distinctive: The name should be unique, memorable, and stand out from the rest.
• Accessible: The name should be accessible; meaning easy to spell, Google, and interpret. It does not matter if you have an unusual or bizarre name, it should be understandable.
• Protectable: The name can be trademarked and get a domain for it. It simply means you own the name both legally and generally.
• Future-proof: The name should maintain relevance as the company grows. It should also be adaptive to brand extensions and different products.
• Visual: This simply means that you can translate it through designs that include color, logos, icons, and so on.
Generally, the above are the main criteria of vetting a brand name. However, how do you determine if a name is successful (please note that we did not say ‘Good’ or ’Bad’)? Well, it all depends on whether it is clicking or interacting with people.
How to Find The Right Name?
The truth is that finding a good name can be an exhausting, irritating, and electrifying experience. Neil Blumenthal, the CEO and also the co-founder of Warby Parker said that it took his team of experts 6 months and over 2,000 options to find the perfect brand name.
There are many services that are trying to make the work easier, may it be through suggesting names or pre-vetting them; examples include names and available URLs (Brand Bucket), Domains (Bust a Name), or Shopify’s Business Name Generator and Wordoid.
The truth is that these tools can really help you when choosing. However, we think that you should use them for brainstorming. It is wise to vet, choose, and test a brand name with a purpose and intentions. Remember, something cannot be auto-generated. Below is a helpful step-by-step guide that you should consider when looking to pick cool brand names that are ideal for your business.
Step #1: Articulate Your Core Identity
Before coming up with a brand name, you need first to understand what you are trying to achieve as well as your identity. This is what we call ‘Core Identity’. This includes:
• Values – How you do what you do
• Mission – What your company (wants to do) or (does)
• Vision – Why your company exists
There are three elements that summarize your purpose. They influence everything you do such as coming up with a name for your brand. The moment you have identified yourself, go through your competitive analysis to identify what makes you different. (Don’t have a competitive analysis? Here’s how to do it.)
In a nutshell, knowing what makes your brand different is also part of coming up with a name for your brand.
Step #2: Brainstorm
Honestly, this is sometimes brutal and also fun step. This is the time to gather your creative team and stakeholders and come up with a structured brainstorm. Well, even though it sounds fun to let everyone to go wild, experience has taught us that people need some kind of guidelines or constraints to work within. As such, you should consider starting the discussion with a specific exercise. Example:
• Describing what you want your customers to feel when they use the service or product
• Write down adjectives that describe your service
• Consider words that suggest your product or service
Another method of brainstorming is to think of different categories of the name of brands. Like the way, Alina Wheeler mentioned in Designing Brand Identity. The methods may include:
• Founder – A name based on a real or fictional person (brand examples: Betty Crocker, Warby Parker, and Ben & Jerry’s)
• Descriptive – A name that defines what you do or make (brand example: General Motors)
• Fabricated – A name or word that is totally made-up (brand examples: TiVo, Xerox, and Kodak)
• Metaphor – A name from imagery-heavy or foreign things, mythical, people, places, processes, or animals (brand examples: Patagonia and Nike)
• Magic Spells – A name from a combination of two or more words together or a real word with made-up spelling (brand examples: Facebook and Flickr)
• Acronym – A name from abbreviation or initials (brand examples: DKNY (Donna Karan New York) and GE (General Electric)).
With the information above, consider challenging your team to come up with a name for every category. With time, you will see a trend or preference for one type over the others. You should try to come up with more than 20 names.
A Few Extra Techniques:
• Consider using Onym for name exercises, screening tips, word etymologies, and many more things that will help you come up with a good brand name.
• Also, consider using Panabee for the company, app, and domain name searches. You will also get alternative suggestions.
With these tips, you will not get stuck, especially if you are running out of steam.
Step #3: Vetting
This is another frustrating step one has to overcome. Remember, there is no point of vetting anything that you have already taken. All you have to do is vet those that are your favorites.
You should narrow your brainstorming list down to about 20. After this, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database of registered trademarks. If all your brand names have been taken, it is all back to the drawing board. If by chance all your names are not registered, narrow your list to about top three.
NOTE: Consider seeking the services of a legal team if a name seems to available.
Step #4: Testing
After going through all the above steps including the legality part of it, the next step is to test it. This means creating samples of everything such as product packaging, logos, and homepages. Test your top three names.
Below is one easy testing idea (courtesy of startup lawyer Steven Cook):
• Build a branded landing page for each name. it is recommended to use an identical copy. The only things that will change are logos and brand names.
• Run a highly targeted FB ad that targets consumers for a week
• Examine the pages that got more conversions
• Using the information, build the strongest brand
Remember that brand name is only the first step of building a strong brand. to have a strong brand,
• Find out how to create a brand strategy
• Build your brand identity
• Learn what to include in your brand style and much more.
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