How to create a great brand name in 2019?
There are an estimated 200 million companies in the world today. That’s 200 million brands. Some brands as big as Apple and Disney. Others as small as a one person business.
With so many brands in the world today, it’s getting harder and harder to create unique business name ideas. Just how do you create a great brand name? How can you play and win the name game?
Below you will find all the steps on how to create a brand name.
1. Select the type of name you want
There are 7 different categories of names, and pretty much every brand in the world falls in one of these 7 categories.
Eponymous names like Disney and Burberry, work by embodying the vision and beliefs of their founders. These names are ok if you’re feeling lazy or just have a big ego. Adidas is more unique. It’s derived from Adolf Dassler, the companies founder. Tesla wasn’t created by Nikola Tesla (he died in 1943), but the name is an homage to Tesla’s electrical engineering achievements. Eponymous names also make for great clothing brand names ideas.
Descriptive names like British Airways and Homebase work by telling you exactly what the company does, but these names can be a mouthful and are much harder to own or protect.
Acronyms like AA and BP are just shorthand versions of descriptive names. Some acronyms are more strategic. Kentucky Fried Chicken switched to KFC because fried chicken didn’t sound too healthy. The Hong Kong and Shanghai bank changed to HSBC to help the bank expand globally.
Real words like UBER and Slack are ripped straight out of a dictionary and suggest attributes or benefits. UBER literally means an outstanding or supreme example, so works well for a company with big, broad and bold ambitions beyond ride hailing.
Real words might seem like good ideas, but in a world of 200 million companies, it’s getting harder to find a name. It's actually quite hard to find any words left in the dictionary. However, they do make for cool brand names.
Composite names like Facebook and Ray-Bban are created by glueing two words together. Some of these names have a one-two-punch that can be really memorable.
Since it's so hard to find real words, companies like Kleenex and Pinterest have invented names by changing, adding or removing letters for impact. Invented names can be highly unique, but if you're not careful, they can also start to sound like pharmaceutical drugs. Or worse, the name of a new sofa from Ikea.
Associative names work by reflecting imagery and meaning back to the brand. The Amazon in South America is the world’s largest river, therefore the earth’s biggest selection of books, clothes, content and so on. Red Bull associates to drink with bull like qualities such as power and confidence. Some of the best brands names can be attributed to their associative traits.
Some brands are derived from non-english languages, like Samsung which means three stars in Korean. A Hulu is a bowl used to store precious things.
Finally the seventh type is abstract names. Names like Rolex or Kodak. These names have no intrinsic meaning, but instead rely on the power of phonetics to create really powerful brand names. Many of the great brand names originated in this way.
2. Decide what you want your name to say
Once you’ve decided on what type of name you want, you need to decide what you want the name to say.
It’s tempting to create names that talk about who created them, or what you do, or where you operate. But the best brand names DON’T describe. They stand for a big idea. Ones that translate into emotional appeal.
Nike is about winning.
GoPro is about heroism.
Apple is about simplicity and usability.
Google comes from the maths term - a 1 with 100 zeros after it. So that really big number helps support the companies really big original vision to organise the world’s information.
3. Make it original
Being original isn’t easy. As a start-up, you need to compel people to notice you. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
To start, generate a whole bunch of names.
Don’t edit yourself during this brainstorming process. It’s more about the free flow of ideas and imagination.
Now it’s time to explore keywords.
Find words that are related to your business or service.
Let’s say you’re a digital marketing service. You could use social, story tellers, platforms to kick things off.
If you’re struggling for keywords, crack open a book or even skim read through the dictionary to find words that resonate with you.
Shift words around, create a running short list and keep iterating.
When you think you’ve come up with something, keep going!
4. Make it future proof
One thing you don’t want to do is create a name that you’ll grow out of eventually. Look to the future.
If today your company only sells women's shoes, but eventually you’d like to add a mens line, it’s probably a good idea to NOT name your company Heels for Her by Pheobe.
You also need to consider your companies story, values and what makes you different during the brainstorm phase. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing it all down. If you’re a service based business, having your service in the name can be helpful. To ensure your name is memorable, keep it simple. Don’t over complicate it.
5. Make it user friendly
This is a big one.
Say it. Spell it. Type it.
It’s important to choose a name that’s easy to say, spell and type into Google and social. Even if it’s a made up word. Choosing a name that can help people find you quickly will put you ahead of the game.
As you get deeper into brainstorming, limit yourself to company names that have only one word or two syllables. Think Nike, Facebook, Ikea, Oreo. This will help you come up with more punchy name ideas. You can even take some of your top ideas and come up with a rough logo design using Squarespace’s FREE logo maker website.
It’s also worth get feedback from a few trusted friends or family members to weigh in on name ideas. If you say a name and they immediately start asking a bunch of questions (or look confused), you may want to have a rethink it.
6. Make sure it’s available
Once you have a couple of company names that you’re happy with, it’s time to do some digging. For search and legitimacy purposes, you’ll want your name in your website URL. Make sure it’s also available in a .com format. If it’s not, it’s not the end of the world. But, .com is the best if you can get it.
You can use sites like Godaddy and Namecheckr to check if the url is available. If it isn’t, don’t worry. You still have options. You can add a word at the start or end of your name. Popular words include app, get or hello. Again, if you’re service based industry, you can try adding your offering into the name. Think joeblogsconsulting.com, or redberryicecreams.com.
Also look at social handles and check to see if your name is taken on social channels like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and/or Twitter. If it is, you can always add something to the beginning or end of the name. But you already knew that…
7. Make sure you love it
It goes without saying, you really need to love the new business name and feel very confident about putting it out to the world. Once you’ve finalised your business name, you can start building your brand.
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