Creating and effectively marketing a brand name is one of the biggest challenges of starting a new business. Choose the wrong name, and customers have no idea what your business stands for or what it does. But choose the right name, and customers immediately identify with your value proposition.
We’ll explore the basics of creating a unique, representative brand name that can help convey your identity to customers and partners.
Creating a cool company name can take a lot of effort. However, with the right approach and a strategic process, you can select the perfect name to identify your brand.
Let’s examine some essential factors to consider when creating a brand name.
When you decide on a name, you’ll first need to see if it’s available. Ignoring this crucial step can end up being an expensive and embarrassing mistake.
Follow these steps to check your brand name’s availability:
Over the past few years, the trend in startup branding has been to develop a clever name that sounds like a real word but is actually contrived by combining other words. This works in specific situations – think Spotify or Snapchat – but it’s not necessarily the best strategy for all companies.
Getting too cute can often hurt your ability to grow. For best results, choose a more straightforward name.
If you can develop a brand name that’s easy to spell and pronounce, you’ll be well ahead of many of today’s startups and small businesses.
While it’s hard to find an available one these days, one-word brand names are always ideal. They’re easy to remember, strong and relatable. If you think about some of the most successful and recognizable businesses in the world – Target, Amazon, Apple – they all have one-word names.
Sometimes you have to invent a word – Twitter, Google, Starbucks – but the effect is the same. A two-word name is acceptable when one word is not an option, but avoid going with three or more words if possible. Long names complicate everything from choosing a domain name to future product packaging.
Simple names are also more likely to inspire customer trust. In a study of 700 stocks that traded between 1990 and 2004, researchers found that companies with simple names earned 11 percent more than those with difficult-to-pronounce names.
Several factors go into this:
Business owners usually think about the logo after selecting a brand name, but it’s good to keep designs in mind when brainstorming name ideas. Your brand name and logo will become synonymous, so they can’t be considered independent components.
Will you use a specific script or font to create a textual logo like Coca-Cola or Facebook, or will you go with an abstract logo like Apple or Target?
These decisions may not directly impact the logo, but they can be a deciding factor when choosing between two or more options.
While you may specialize in a particular product now, you don’t want to limit your company to selling only that product forever. The wrong brand name can seriously hamper your ability to scale in the years to come.
For example, let’s say your startup sells cat food. Using the brand name “Cat Food Incorporated” doesn’t give you much room to expand into, say, dog food in the future. However, if you went with the brand name “Healthy Pets Incorporated,” you have room to expand food and product lines.
This sort of thing happens all the time. For example, Boston Market used to be called Boston Chicken. Then it wanted to add other types of foods to the menu and had to embark on a rebranding exercise that cost the company more than $14 million. It’s best to get it right from the beginning.
Just as it’s crucial to reserve a domain name with your brand name, you should scoop up other digital versions of your brand name. For example, you’ll want to build a social media presence for your brand name, so lock down Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
If your brand name isn’t available on platforms you want to use for social media marketing, you may even rethink the name.
When seeing your brand name, potential customers should get a sense of what your company is about. For example, IMPACT is the name of an award-winning marketing agency. Its goal is to create the maximum impact for its clients; the company reinforces this message by writing the name in all capital letters. Another example is Whole Foods, which implies natural, unprocessed food choices.
The strongest brand names are distinctive. When someone hears your brand name, they should associate it only with your company’s products or services.
Steer away from descriptive words related to your product, such as “Yummy Yogurt” or “Durable Tires.” You can, however, combine words to create a descriptive brand name, such as “Yumgurt” or “DuraTire.”
Gather your team to brainstorm characteristics, values and emotions related to your brand offering. Then try the following:
Your brand name must be memorable so consumers and potential customers can easily seek you out and recommend you to others. If you sell in a retail environment, a memorable name allows customers to find you amid a sea of competing products.
Some factors that go into a memorable brand name include the following:
A brand is an intangible marketing concept used to identify a product, service, group of products or services, or the company as a whole. A brand name is what you choose to call the brand; it consists of both the spelling and the pronunciation.
The brand name is an integral part of a business’s brand identity and overall marketing plan. A brand identity may include a logo (which might incorporate the brand name or be a stand-alone graphic), slogan or tagline, color scheme, or an aesthetic.
Brand names often give prospective customers an idea of what the company or product does or a characteristic of the company or product. Here are some famous examples:
Some companies, such as General Motors, have multiple product groups represented by brands under their umbrella, such as Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC, all marketed separately with different value propositions.
Branding is a critical component of launching a business. With more businesses being created every day, a distinct, memorable brand name can set your company apart from the competition. As you move through the brand-naming process, keep an open mind and don’t rush your decision. Rebranding is an expensive proposition, so get it right the first time.
Larry Alton contributed to the writing and research in this article.