Have you noticed that naming a brand is one of the hardest aspects of branding?
Good brand names have a certain “stickiness” to them. This “stickiness” is what makes them memorable and repeatable. It also makes your competition go, “Damn, I wish we came up with that!”
But the wonderment of creating that “stickiness” and identifying the perfect brand name doesn’t come the second you tell it to. Instead it usually takes time, intention, and being willing to consider what you never thought of before. Here are a few tips to consider when you are embarking on developing that new brand name.
The millennial generation has been given a bad rep for wanting everything instantly, but I have yet to meet a business leader that doesn’t want instant branding success. Creation and development of a successful brand takes time. For some it takes longer than others, but give yourself and your team permission to have unstructured time to be creative.
Plan to have one to three brainstorming sessions. In these (ideally, off-site) sessions, turn your phone off, get away from technology, use crayons, markers, large paper and dry erase boards. Toys and old magazines are also encouraged to trigger ideas and to give people an opportunity to fidget while they think.
There is only one rule in these sessions: anything goes. This is the time to throw everything including the kitchen sink at the wall. Don’t judge the ideas because what seems like a dumb idea now, could turn into that “sticky” brand name later. The whole purpose of these sessions is to create as many ideas as possible, so make sure that you have a facilitator who can capture all of these ideas for you.
At the end of each session, you’ll want to take time to reflect on what you’ve created. This initial reflection will identify words and phrases that resonate with the brand you are creating. They may not be the final name, but they may be perfect for marketing materials, campaigns, or a slogan. The best names are remembered without needing to refer to the list. You might be surprised by which names are most easily conjured from your memory bank. Then take at least 24 hours before regrouping. When you regroup is when you’ll start refining the name and narrow it down to three finalists. I encourage my clients at this point to print out the finals and tape them to a wall that they walk by all the time for three days to a week. Even though they are not studying the names (or logos), one will begin to “jump off the page”. This is your new brand!
Short Is Sweet, Pun Will Get You Beat
What do Armani, Nike, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Pixar, and Samsung have in common? Yes, they’re all very successful companies, but they’re also short and easy to say. Studies show that brevity lends itself to memorability, so companies are wise to choose short and punchy names that won’t be easily forgotten by the market.
But let’s not take that too far. There are some companies who have been successful with a slightly longer name: Jet Airways, Mary Kay, Western Union, Tommy Hilfiger, Mercedes-Benz, Burger King, and Cartoon Network to name a few. Try saying only one word of the two-word pair, does it have the impact as the two words together? Would the brand “Jet” be as powerful as Jet Airways? Or how about “Burger” instead of Burger King?
When making the final selection, be aware of connotations it evokes – is it too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
Your name should also be a reflection of your brand identity, and ensure it is properly registered and protected for the long-term. Is it web-ready? Is the domain name even available?
Pick a Name That is Web-Ready
In order to claim a domain name or URL, your brand name needs to be unique and available. If it is not available that is an early warning sign that you’ll have competition even if the other company doesn’t offer similar or competing products. They will be SEO competition.
Another very important element to consider is what the domain name looks like when it is written out. You may have a “sticky” name, but the domain name says something else: Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their Web site is www.whorepresents.com. Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange Advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com. There’s the Italian Power Generator company, www.powergenitalia.com, and the First Cumming Methodist Church is www.cummingfirst.com.
Our brains look for recognizable patterns. So when we see a bunch of letters thrown together, we look for what word pops out first, and sometimes it is not the word you want it to be.
Claim Your Social Media Identity
It’s a good idea to claim your social media name early in the naming process – even if you are not sure which sites you intend to use. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, as can your Twitter handle assuming that this custom URL name is unique, or unclaimed. YouTube allows you to change the channel name, but the URL cannot be changed once it is created.