Nike. Google. Apple. What’s in a brand name?
At the end of the day, the quality of a product or service is the most significant factor that determines its long-term success. However, that does not necessarily mean that choosing a brand name is a task that should be taken lightly.
In fact, science proves that choosing the right name for your brand plays an integral role in how consumers will embrace your offerings.
Here’s an example. If you have a toddler at home, go on and observe him. Everything is new to him. As he grows and develops, he absorbs new information, including words. Acquiring new words is not just a matter of hearing and repeating sounds. It’s more complicated than that.
When a child expands his vocabulary, emotional association is involved. For example, in learning the word “puppy,” a young child attaches an emotion (which could be positive or negative) to that word based on his personal experience with the puppy.
If the kid and the puppy hit it off and play with one another, the child associates the word with play or affection. On the other hand, if the puppy is aggressive, the child may associate fear with the word. As the child grows, that association becomes fixed.
What has that got to do with your brand’s name?
A rose by any other name
Think of a new customer as a young child who has no idea of who you are as a brand. Like a blank slate, prospective and new customers know nothing about you. And for a business, this opportunity, this starting point, is crucial simply because your brand name is a new set of words that they still have to include in their vocabularies.
To put it more succinctly, prospective customers have no preconceived notions about your brand name.
Combining a reliable product, a stellar reputation, and a positive interaction with your brand helps you earn a loyal following from customers.
Choosing a good brand name
Now that the importance of the right brand name has been established, the next order of business is generating one.
Choosing a brand name is by no means an easy process that should be left to chance. Ideally, much thought should be given to what your brand name stands for and how it will fit your brand and its offerings.
There are several approaches that you can take when deciding what name to give your brand. There are several companies which use the names of their founders, while others describe a certain quality that the brand wants to live up to or what the brand offers. Some take a simple, commonplace word, while others make up new words.
Whichever route you take, it is crucial that you choose a name that best represents what your brand is all about.
● Before starting
Having a brand strategy in place will guide you in choosing the right name for your brand.
You might also want to bring in branding experts to help streamline the process of finding the right name for your brand. By leveraging the expertise of professionals that specialize in brand naming, you can avoid many costly mistakes.
● Outline your naming strategy
Start by determining a goal that your chosen brand name will have to accomplish. If you have existing products or services, you will need to add this into the equation.
After that, formulate criteria that will allow you to judge each name on your shortlist objectively.
At this point, it’s important to consider how your name will appear online. Is it critical for you to have a dot.com? (If it is, your options are going to be fairly restricted.) Can the dot.com be slightly different from the business name you use every day? (If, for example, your company name is Apollo, adding something to that, such as Apollo Computing, makes the process a whole lot easier and less restrictive.(
● Create a list
The next thing you will need to do is to jot down all of the possible names that you can use for your brand. At the onset, you will have a long list. Don’t worry, as that list will eventually become shorter.
It will be helpful to bring in several people from diverse backgrounds to help you generate names for your list and whittle that down afterward.
● Narrow down your choices
In choosing a brand name, subjectivity has no place. In the beginning, that means that there is no bad or good name. The important thing is to generate as many potential names for your brand as possible.
But when it comes to narrowing down your list, you have to be objective and set aside your preconceived notions about each name.
This is where your criteria will come in handy.
● Make the final choice
After you have narrowed down your choices to a handful of options, the next step that you need to take is to test each remaining name.
Start by listening to how each name sounds. Indeed, you would want a name that sounds good and clear, even on the telephone.
Next, look at how each name is spelled and pronounced. The name you choose should be easy to remember and should not be confusing to spell or write.
Finally, your chosen name should effectively communicate your brand personality.
Just the start
Choosing your brand name is only part and parcel of a more important process that is branding. Once you have settled on your brand’s name, you can then proceed to other critical branding tasks like crafting its personality and messaging.
Stuart Harris is the Creative Director at Yellow, a Dubai branding agency, digital partner and advertising company working with progressive businesses to build bold, meaningful brands.