Having created hundreds of brands over the years, we are often asked, how do you choose a great brand name? Well, it starts with your brand strategy. Why is that a problem? Usually, people start their business out of passion and pick a name before they even have a business strategy! We rarely see companies map out their brand strategy first, then take their value proposition/hypothesis and use that direction to identify and create an effective brand name.
It is also important to keep in mind budgets, and that small business need to approach the brand name to fit their funding. Big brands spend hundreds of millions in advertising to educate, especially when it’s a made-up word, so you need to ask yourself are you willing to do the same? If not there are short cuts that we will map out for you here. Your brand name should convey your brand value proposition, clearly and directly. If you need to explain it, it going to cost you more to market your brand. So always chose clarity over cleverness. If you confuse them you lose them.
Finding a good brand name is not an easy or quick process, a companies name flows through the entire business and is a pivotal piece of all the strategies. In fact, we have seen companies with poorly thought out names become their death knell.
Beyond just the brand strategy and marketing, be aware that there are major challenges businesses will face with their name, often well past their point of launch. A point where change is possible, but exponentially more expensive than if they selected an effective name the first time. The challenges include domains, trademarks, intellectual property, and reputation optimization, and control.
So how do you select an effective name?
It takes a lot of time and research. With almost every common name squatted on or trademarked, it has only gotten that much more complex to find an effective name that is available and distinct enough to empower the brand.
Before we dive into more specifics, its important to point out that budget greatly impacts name selection. If you have a large enough budget, many names are being squatted on, that you can purchase for large sums of money.
The name selection process is especially challenging because there are more than 24 million businesses in the United States. U.S. trademark law protects business names, so when you find one you like, make sure you can use it. If you infringe on a copyright, you could be forced to abandon your new business name after investing a lot of time and money in it.
Also, think about your internet marketing goals, since you’ll need a URL (the websites domain/ address). There are over 860 million domain names registered worldwide, and some experts believe that over 99.9% of the dictionary is registered as a domain name.
The more your name communicates to the consumers about your value proposition, the less effort you must exert to explain it. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression, and a great name can make a great first impression and open doors. Meanwhile, a poorly chosen name will close them. And you will likely just be forgotten.
According to naming experts, entrepreneurs should give priority to real words or combinations of words over fabricated words. People prefer words they can relate to and understand. That’s why professional namers universally condemn strings of numbers or initials as a bad choice.
The easier it is for people to understand and remember your brand, the easier it will be to build trust and a great brand experience.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Select a name that is memorable but easy to spell and pronounce. Again the fewer barriers to remember, the easier it will be on the consumer.
- While singularity is the goal, sometimes budget limitations come into play, and you should prioritize clarity and availability over singularity alone.
- It needs to be visually easy to read and remember.
- Ideally, it easily conveys your value proposition or sets the stage for what you do.
- It should be timeless.
- Avoid unusual spellings, numbers, etc.
- Keep it simple. Less is always more.
- Don’t use words like “Inc., LLC” after your name unless your company is actually incorporated. And even then leave it out of the brand where possible.
- Considering the domain name(s) and optimize ability – can you control your reputation online and ensure that when people search for you, they can find you? Look at options, traffic, optimization, the ability for you to rank #1 in your names’ search, and always go for the .com when possible. And don’t forget to research social media platforms as well.
So what if you already have a name, but it’s not working? Choosing the wrong name and then refusing to change it is just silly. Sometimes you don’t have the time when starting and stick with a name because it made sense at the time. If later on, you develop clarity in your brand strategy, and your name is no longer in alignment, then its time for a new name. Just remember, where would Pacific Coast Distributing be if they had not changed their name to Pet’s Mart?
We know that a name can make a man; the same goes for businesses. As with everything we do, we aim to empower you and your brand to make the best, most well-informed decisions possible. If you are looking to launch a new business or brand, reach out to us today, and let us empower you to get the right name the first time.