For a new business, creating and effectively marketing a new brand name is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business.
For a new business, creating and effectively marketing a new brand name is one of the most challenging aspects of getting out of the proverbial starting blocks.
Choose the wrong name and customers have no idea what your business stands for or what it does.
Choose the right name and customers immediately identify with your value proposition. It’s an important step, so let’s review some of the basics.
The Significance of the Brand Name
While progressive ‘business experts’ may try to claim that the significance of brand names is fading, the reality is that they will always be incredibly important when looked at through the lens of marketing, advertising, and customer retention. This is largely based on human nature.
“As human beings, we evaluate information quickly and make judgments in a snap,” writes Ilya Pozin. “In fact, Harvard research has pinpointed snap judgments can be made in as little as three to four seconds of meeting someone. For reference, this is barely enough time to say hello, but the human brain has already made a friend-or-foe decision.” This innate habit automatically transfers over to the consumer marketplace.
If you want to see a clear example of how this is true, just consider another study that Pozin references. Researchers looked at 700 stocks that traded between 1990 and 2004 and discovered that companies with simple names earned 11 percent more than those with difficult-to-pronounce names.
That says it all right there. Consumers want to feel comfortable with the brands they buy from, invest in, and spend time with. As an entrepreneur, it’s important that you spend a considerable amount of time and effort developing your brand name. Don’t just throw together a couple of words and move on. This is a critical component of long-term success.
5 Tips for Developing Your Brand Name
Creating cool company names takes a lot of work. However, with the right approach and strategic processes, you can find one that works for your company. Let's take a look at some practical tips you should consider:
1. Check Availability
When you come up with a name, the first thing you should do is check the availability of that name. Putting blinders on and ignoring your surroundings could end up being an expensive or embarrassing mistake.
Your first step in this process is to run the name through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), which tells you whether or not there are any registered trademarks or prior pending applications for the marks you want to use. You can find this free database on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website.
The next thing you want to do is check that the domain name is available for your brand. In today’s internet-based economy, it would be a disaster to register a brand name, only to find out that someone has already scooped up all of your domain options. This is one of the benefits of working with a company that provides an all-in-one package with the brand name, domain, and logo tied together.
Finally, a very practical way to check on a brand name is to run some targeted keyword searches on Google. Put your brand name in quotation marks and conduct a handful of queries. Look for any results that may require further investigation.
2. Don’t Get Cute
Over the past few years, the trend in startup branding has been to come up with a clever name that sounds like a real word, but is actually contrived by combining a couple of other words. This does work in certain situations—think about 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 names that meet the following criteria:
- Easy to spell: Spelling is important. Even if you’ve made up the word, it needs to be easy to spell. For example, if you heard the name Spotify without seeing the word written out, would you be able to spell it? Most probably would. However if you were asked to spell the name Saucony (pronounced SOCK-a-nee) without ever seeing it, you’d probably find the task challenging. This poses a problem when it comes to customers searching for products online or sharing names with friends.
- Easy to pronounce: This goes hand in hand with spelling, but your brand name needs to be easy to pronounce. Take, Guerlain for example. Most people pronounce the brand name “Grrr-lane,” when it’s in fact “Gher-lahn.” How awful would it be to have a brand name that nobody can correctly pronounce? You don’t want to go down that road.
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.
3. Aim for Simplicity
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, etc.—they all have one-word names.
Sometimes you have to invent these words—i.e. Twitter, Google, Starbucks, etc.—but the effect is still the same. Two words is acceptable when one word is not an option, but avoid going with three or more words if at all possible. Long names complicate everything from domain selection to future product packaging.
4. Think about the Logo
The logo always comes second—after selecting the name—but it is a good idea to keep designs in mind when brainstorming ideas. Your brand name and logo will become synonymous with each other and they can’t be looked at as independent components.
Will you use a certain 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.
5. Consider Future Growth
Finally, think about the future growth of your company. While you may specialize in a certain product right now, you don’t want to limit your company to only selling that product. 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.
Launch Your Brand Today
Branding is an incredibly important component of launching a business in today’s economy. All industries are overcrowded with businesses and a distinct, memorable brand name is one of the ways you can set your company apart from the competition. As you move through the process, keep these tips in mind and avoid rushing to conclusions. Your brand name is permanent, so don’t mess this one up!