Blog: 9 Tips for Effective Brand Naming
14 May 2019
Creating a name for your company is fun and inspiring. It can also create a lot of stress and frustration. Yet it is a fundamental choice, one you want to make only once in the lifetime of your company. Please find herewith 9 tips for effective brand naming that can help you create the best possible naming solution.
1. Think about your end game
It is important to think about your company not in the beginning stages, but in the future. What do you want your company to be like in the next years? What if you change your proposition or positioning? Will the name still be appropriate? Your name is the longest marketing tool. Keep in mind that changing a name is costly and problematic, something you want to avoid at all cost.
2. Make a complete briefing
In order to have a strong and distinctive name, it is important to take into account the all strategic, communicative, digital, linguistic and legal aspects. Finding the optimal balance between those conditions guarantees that your name will be a strong and effective base for your future brand. Describe your proposition, the business objectives, long term positioning, USP, brand values, target groups and all other aspects that could be impacted by the name. This will provide the starting point for your thinking and many angles for creation. No name can apply to all, but the name should not collide with the points in the briefing.
3. Set up the decision making process
A name is nothing but a word that, if placed in context, can become a brand. Choosing a name is an emotional process, the more people the more opinions. Everybody can talk about the name and that is exactly the problem. Looking for security by checking around will have the opposite effect. There is no definitive name so don’t go looking for one. The best approach is that of a benign dictatorship. Use input from all possible sources, check the name against all conditions, fine tune, and select a short list with your core team. You know the outline of the brand to be better than anyone else.
4. Create and play with words.
Many names are just a mixture of random words that simply work together. It might not always be obvious, which is why you should play around with them, see what ‘fits’ and what doesn’t. Use input from multiple sources, approach the naming from every possible angle. Crazy is good, it may provide a new insight. Create lists of names for evaluation. Related to the instrumental values, the positioning, the brand values, or just abstract. And if you decide to give a more explicit promise, make sure you can deliver it.
5. Less is more
Long names are distracting, confusing and do not work well. Most brand names with 2 or 3 words will inevitably be changed into abbreviations or acronyms, officially or unofficially. Over time the original meaning will be lost and the name will not be distinctive and legally weak.
6. Dare to be distinctive
Dare to be different. A name doesn’t have to be distinctive all by itself, a simple word can be changed in such a way to become different and unique. Think about all the possible options you have: misspelling, use of capital and lower case letters, different accents, etc. Write down every name you think of and consider the changes you could implement. Maybe the visual aspect of the name will be the one that makes it distinctive. Or just go for a name that doesn’t mean anything. If you like it and it fits all conditions, it may be a perfect name for your brand.
7. Digital diligence
Conduct a first Google check to make sure no similar names pop up with undesired associations and have a look if the extension of your choice is available. Obviously a .com is preferred for International brands. Most of the more obvious ones will be in use, some can be bought. Don’t despair, be creative. Ask yourself if the pure word .com is absolutely necessary. To read more about domain extensions, click here.
8. Legal research is a must.
Millions of names are registered as a trademark every year. If your brand name infringes on an existing trademark you could get into legal problems. Before use it is therefore essential to check if the name is available before you fall in love with it. Ideally you conduct a full legal research in all relevant classes. This will insure your freedom to operate and prevent painful and costly surprises down the line.
9. Check what your name really means
Sometimes a name might sound perfect to you, but in a different language can mean something offensive or distasteful. For names directed at an International target group it’s important to do a linguistic check before making the name official. A legal problem can be fixed, a linguistic problem can’t.
Ola Nalewajek / Joachim ter Haar
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Joachim ter Haar
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