HOW TO CREATE A GREAT BRAND NAME
Our first piece on brand naming focused on the different types of brand name. This one focuses on how to come up with a great one.
A brand name is the first thing customers hear when engaging with a brand. Creating a sense of intrigue and association can go a long way towards differentiating one product or service from another. The best brand names become synonymous with the product or service they are offering. Think of Uber, Netflix, Hoover, and Coke.
Brand names are a marketer’s opportunity to communicate as succinctly as possible what makes them different from, and better than, their competitors. The brand name can convey, in one or two words, important characteristics of the brand story. Dove, for example, immediately evokes thoughts and feelings of peace, care, and gentleness. All Dove products are known for being mild and caring to the skin. The name underpins the strategy. Likewise, Uber intentionally brings to mind the literal meaning of the word uber which is to be a supreme example or ‘above all the rest’.
Brand names give marketers an opportunity to generate curiosity in their customers, to create positive feelings and emotions about the brand, and to boost brand awareness and memorability.
And the data backs this up – according to this Nielsen study a company or brand name can be one of the “most valuable assets a company possesses”, and up to 80% of consumers prefer to buy a product from a brand name they recognise.
A process for creating a strong brand name
Before starting a brand naming exercise, it’s important to understand the strategy behind the brand. Knowing what you are naming is crucial. Look to define a brand’s purpose (why you exist), vision (where you want to get to) and mission (how to get there). This comes together into a brand story and tone of voice to convey throughout the brand, starting with the name.
Auditing the landscape
Audit the existing competitor landscape to see where competitors names sit on a spectrum from Abstract to Descriptive., and to ascertain where there is a space to own and be different.
Defining criteria before entering a creative process will help focus the creative phase and shortlist names generated. Based on the agreed brand strategy and story, agree some minimum basic criteria such as:
- Align with brand strategy
- Understandable / pronounceable in relevant territories
- Evocative – decide what you want the reader to ‘feel’
- Longevity – the name doesn’t constrain the growth plans of the business
Creating a long list of names is a difficult process and there’s no easy way about it. It takes time, and effort. Look for inspiration from obvious and not so obvious sources. Ask people to help.
Filter the names based on domain, social, and initial legal (IP) checks
Finally, refine the shortlist of names based on the comprehensive list below. The endeavour is always to be as high on each of the three criteria as possible, acknowledging trade-offs and constraints. In a naming context, we break it down as below:
The characteristics of great brand names
Great brand names are ownable, memorable, and scalable. Ownable to the brand and ownable as a trademark, memorable in the eyes of the consumer, and scalable in terms of allowing flexibility for future growth. Under each of these headers, we assess brand names against several key criteria which we’ve outlined below.
- The name is simple to remember, say, and spell
- The name is memorable
- The name evokes feelings or emotions in the consumer
- It sparks a level of intrigue
- The name aligns with the strategic goals / story of the brand
- The name is distinct and a differentiator, and will stand out in its sector
- The brand/product name translates coherently across regions in which it will launch
- The name is fit for future brand development
- A name is, usually, for life. It is important to create a name that doesn’t pigeon hole the strategic goals of a business by tieing it too close to a particular product, service, or niche if it intends to grow beyond its current state.
- The name is not faddish
- Avoiding tying names to particular fads which may or may not be around in several years and which may become too ubiquitous. Examples include names ending in ‘ify’ and ‘ly’
- The name is trademarkable in the relevant classes and geographies
- Relevant domains and social handles are available
Strategic / Story Alignment
- The name is ownable to the brand and aligns with the brand story and personality?
- Can we afford it?
- Empty vessel names give a significant opportunity to create the type of brand emotional response that the marketer requires, however given the consumer will have no prior affinity to the name, they typically require more marketing budget in order to build this affinity.
Naming is a crucial part of the brand building process, and must be aligned with the overall brand strategy. If you’d like to have a chat about either brand strategy or naming, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org