“77% of people refer to certain items by brand names” (Crowdspring). People don’t say let’s have fried chicken; they say let’s have KFC. That’s the power of a successful brand name. Now, what is the thumb rule for creating a successful brand name? Should it be the founder’s name, or should it describe the business line or express an experience, or should it be a new-found word like Google or a repetitively structured name like Coca Cola? Disrupting the usual, Apple came as a quite out-of-context brand name for a technology company that deals in electronics and computer software. But once a brand is as successful as Apple, no rule applies. Apple is a great brand name of all worth, and in the end, that’s all matters.
Step 1: Understand the basics
Apple’s brand story is inspiring, but in general, is it wise to randomly pick a name and adopt it as a brand name for your business? Perhaps Yes… Perhaps No! Exceptions will be there, but a successful (not saying good or bad) brand name should have some key elements in it such as:
- It should communicate your brand essence in some way or another.
- It should be memorable and unique, and available. That’s a legal necessity for creating a domain name or trademarking the name.
- Expansion is your business’s prime objective, so everything about it should be future-proof, including the brand name. As your products or services grow, the brand name should retain its relevance.
- Bizarre names do work, but they should be understandable. Easy to read and spell names are light on memory.
The best way to go about finding a brand name is to use a brand name generator. Such tools give you a good head start.
The brand name is less about what you like and more about what customers see in it. It is like a link through which customers will identify and remember your brand, among many others. Moreover, you also need to make sure that the name fits into various other aspects of branding. For instance, there should be a domain name available for it; it shouldn’t duplicate another brand; it should align with design elements like icons or brand colors, etc. So, you shouldn’t go completely casual about choosing your brand name.
Also, when it comes to choosing the domain name, you can stand out by choosing a new domain extension such as .TECH, .STORE, .SITE, .ONLINE, .SPACE, .HOST, .PRESS, etc. Albeit a small detail, it can add tremendous value to your brand name.
Step 2: Choose a name category
Roughly, there are seven types of brand name categories. More or less, every brand in the world fall in either of these categories:
- Eponymous: These names are created to embody the beliefs and vision of the founders. E.g., Disney, Blueberry.
- Descriptives – These names describe the line of business like American Airlines.
- Acronymic – The short forms like KFC for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
- Suggestive – This a wide category. These kinds of names suggest a unique feature of the brand. It can be further sub-categorized as:
- Real names – These names exist in the dictionary. For Example, Uber means something that denotes a supreme example.
- Composite – These are created gluing two names like Facebook.
- Invented – These are new-created words made by replacing or changing alphabets of the existing words. Example- Pinterest. Invented names can be highly unique, but creating them and imposing meaning into them is real creative work.
- Associative – These kinds of brand names associate the brand with something popular to establish its uniqueness. For instance, Amazon is the largest river in South America. So by picking Amazon as a brand name, the company has tried to establish itself as the world’s largest online marketplace.
- Non-English: These brand names are picked from other languages. For instance, LEGO means ‘play well’ in Danish.
- Abstract: These are abstract words with no meaning but have the power of phonetics, like Kodak.
Step 3: Brainstorm and decide the name
Once you know the brand name categories, organize a structured brainstorm session among the stakeholders and creative people in your business and challenge them to come up with a name for every category. But before they think of a name, they should get a clear understanding of Brand Identity and Brand Archetype.
This brainstorming session should first focus on identifying your brand identity by answering three prime questions:
- What is the purpose of your brand?
- What is the collective persona of your customers?
- What emotion your customers should feel when they see, hear, or think of your brand?
If you see the trend, all popular brand names represent a big idea that resonates with emotion. For instance, Nike represents winning, GoPro is about Heroism, and Apple is about simplicity and usability. To create or find a brand name, you need to ask yourself what your brand’s big idea is and what emotion you want it to resonate with. Finding that resonating positive emotional aspect is a crucial step, as it will define not just your brand name but also everything related to branding. It can be the logo, icon, content tonality, color selection, digital & print designs, product packaging, website, etc.
To identify the emotion of your brand, you need to find your brand archetype. There are twelve main brand archetypes:
- The innocent (the desire for safety)
- Hero (mastery)
- Explorer (freedom)
- Outlaw (liberation)
- Everyman (belonging)
- Creator (innovation)
- Ruler (control)
- Lover (intimacy)
- Magician (power)
- The Jester (fun)
- The Sage (mentor)
- The Caregiver (protection) –
Your brand name needs to be future proof
While your team brainstorm, they must try to envision the future branding objectives of your business. This is important to create a future-proof brand name. If you are uncertain about how your products or services will diversify in the future, then you must not keep a name that implies something specific. For instance, Women’s Secret is a women’s lingerie brand. If it starts dealing with men’s items, the brand name will lose its relevance.
Make sure the name you have found or created doesn’t mean anything negative in any other language. For example, there is a toilet paper brand from Sweden named KRAPP.
Step 4: Vet the name
At the end of the brainstorm session, you should have 10-20 options of suitable brand names. Now, you need to check its availability to make sure it is not already taken. Check out the registered trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If all the names in your list are taken, then you are back to square one. But if you are lucky and your team is genius, then you may find unregistered names, narrow it down to the top three for testing. Legal vetting is required for an available name.
Step 5: Test the name
After legal hurdles, it’s time to test which brand name resonates with your customers. Here is a simple way to test that, courtesy of Steven Cook:
- Build mock-up landing pages for each name. Use identical designs but change the brand name and logo.
- For a week, hit your customers through a highly targeted FB ad.
- See which page gets more conversions.
Your brand name is the beginning of your brand story, so it is an appreciating asset that you will use thoroughly in your branding activities. Therefore it should reflect what you do and should also resonate with your consumers so that they can uniquely identify you.