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Dos and Don'ts in Picking the Perfect Brand Name

Victor Snyder
Victor Snyder

The name you choose will forever be the identity upon which your brand will stand.

You've probably spent hours (or even days) thinking of the perfect name to give your business. And I do not blame you: The name you choose will forever be the identity upon which your brand will stand. 

There are so many factors that come into play when picking the right brand name. Aside from the need for your brand name to sound cool, fun, and memorable, it should also set the tone of the kind of business you offer and the audience you serve. The last thing you want is to live with a brand name that does the complete opposite.

Here's how you can kickstart your journey to picking the perfect brand name:

Start with a list

So it's time to get closer to meeting the perfect name for your brand. And the best way to go about it is to start with a list of possible brand names to christen your brand. 

There are three ways to build this list of brand names: 

1. Brainstorm on your own.

Put pen to paper and brainstorm as many names as you can. Allow your mind to go wild with ideas, though keep in mind the image of the kind of brand you want to create. Use that as a source of inspiration as you brainstorm. 

2. Get other people to brainstorm with you.

Remember the saying "Two heads are better than one?" The saying rings true for brainstorming brand names, too. Having others to brainstorm with you opens you up to brand names you wouldn't have thought of on your own. Ask your business partner, family and some trusted friends to brainstorm brand names along with you.

3. Get people to compete for creating the best brand name.

What if you turned brainstorming a brand name into a competition? Companies like Brand New Name help entrepreneurs name their business by providing a platform to launch a contest among a global community of talented people. Creative minds suggest business name ideas that align with the kind of brand they want to create. And with hundreds of name suggestions, only one winner is picked, making this a great option to get a great list of name ideas.

Once you have your list of brand names, it's time to choose the perfect brand name. But how do you sift through the list of possible brand names to find the right one? 

Below, I have listed five five do's and don'ts in picking the perfect brand name. By the time you get to the end of the list, you'll find yourself getting closer to the perfect brand name a lot faster, or at least to a name that can be tweaked until it is perfect. 

Start the elimination process

1. Do: Keep it short and simple.

Have you wondered why brand names like Uber, Nike and Canva are so easy to remember? It's because they are short and simple. Ask yourself: Is this brand name easy to remember? Your perfect name could be just a couple of letters long.  

Of course, this does not mean that longer brand names won't serve the purpose. However, it's always good to strive to be memorable. 

2. Do: Listen to how your brand name sounds.

You would love your brand name to be the kind that can easily and smoothly roll off consumers' tongues. As you go through your list of brand names, read each name out loud several times and hear how they sound. Does it sound catchy or does it sound like a tongue twister? Before Sony became what it is today, it was almost Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. (Try saying that three times.)

3. Do: Connect your story to your brand name.

The brand names that we have all grown to love have a powerful story behind them. Think of the story behind your brand (the ordeals, the journey, your why). People relate more to the stories behind the brand. It's a valuable marketing tool. A brand name that ties in with your brand story or raises consumers' curiosity about the story behind your brand takes you closer to choosing a winning brand name. 

Apple got its brand name from the apple orchard in Oregon where Steve Jobs spent months working. Eventually, Jobs and Steve Wozniak settled on the name Apple because they couldn't think of any name that was more technical sounding and liked how unique the name was. 

Virgin was named by co-founders Richard Branson and Nik Powell because they considered themselves as being "virgins" at business. If you did not know that, the name alone would make you curious enough to find out.

4. Do: Double-check whether the name is already being used. 

There is likely someone who has used the same brand name that is on your list. Be open to the possibility that there could be brands out there with the same name or one that is similar. It's always wise to do a quick search on Google to clear all doubts of anyone with the same brand name or one that is similar. 

This also goes for similar names that were used for brands in a different niche. Let's say the name you're considering for your yoga studio is similar to a shampoo brand. It's best to still stay clear of that name, even though it's in a niche unrelated to yours. 

5. Do: Check the meaning of your brand name in other languages.

If your brand went global would it be loved and accepted by the people in that country? It might seem like it's too early to start thinking about what would happen if your brand becomes sustainable and goes international, but it's crucial to select the perfect brand name. 

Imagine how embarrassing it would be if your strong powerful brand name meant something ridiculous in another language, or worse, something offensive. 

So you might want to run a quick Google search to see if there are any hidden meanings behind the prospective brand name. Without conducting a search, you risk using another person's brand name or one that is similar. The last thing you want is to be sued for stealing someone's brand name or passing off your brand name as theirs. This will give a terrible first impression of a brand that hasn't had the chance to live yet. 

6. Don't: Use your first or last name.

But Forbes and Chanel gave their names to their brand, so how could conferring your name on your business go wrong? Giving your name to your brand may be risky especially when you're just starting. If your brand for some reason fails, your name will forever be associated with that failure.

7. Don't: Use a common word with an unusual spelling.

At the first glance, this might seem like a clever way of naming your brand, but it can backfire in so many ways. First, such a brand name will be difficult for your audience to spell, even if it sounds familiar. Second, if they do spell it correctly, once they type it into the search bar, the search results will probably show other businesses offering the same service, making it difficult for your brand to compete. 

8. Don't: Select a brand name that will limit your growth.

Avoid brand names that are limited to a geographic location, a trend or even an era. You might want to expand and have branches in other locations. You might decide that you no longer want to be tagged by a trend or an era. Unless your brand is all about serving people in a specific location, trend or era, any name that will limit your brand from expanding is a big no. 

9. Don't: Get carried away by the letters.

Do you remember MSN and AOL? Their brand names were acronyms for Messenger and America Online. A nice clever acronym won't hurt so long as the brand name doesn't involve too many letters or repeated letters.

10. Don't: Select a name you don't like.

Your brand name should be something you are happy with and one that you'll be proud to own. If you feel something is not right with a name on your list, trust your gut and avoid it. 

Start branding

Finding the perfect brand name is not easy, but it is worth all the effort. It is what defines your business and brand. If chosen right, it lasts the test of time and powerfully represents what your brand stands for. 

You might have found the perfect brand name, but it's time to give your brand life. Give it a logo, a tagline, brand colors, and a message – and even a mascot, if that's what you’re into. 

That's why when we see the golden arches, we remember McDonald's. That's why when we see athletes, our eyes immediately go to their sneakers, because we think of Nike. That's why when we're thirsty and crave a fizzy drink, we think of Coca-Cola. These companies have used their logos, taglines, brand colors, and brand message to create a space for themselves in our everyday experiences. And, over time, we couldn't helped make their brand a household name. 

After all, the brand name was never the end, but rather the start of another adventure. 

Image Credit: julie514 / Getty Images
Victor Snyder
Victor Snyder
business.com Member
A Florida native, Victor G. Snyder has served as a consulting business coach since 2003. He founded BossMakers in 2014, empowering entrepreneurs to filter out the noise, achieve flow and tackle the challenges that will get them where they want to be – ultimately, to own success.