The name of your brand, product, or service is the first thing a consumer comes into contact with. It’s a critical component of their first impression. It’s essential to consider this interaction and strategically decide what you want your first impression to be. Ask yourself, should your brand name be exciting and unique? Should it tell a story?
A stellar brand name is a critical component of brand success. So, why do so many companies fail to emphasize this as a fundamental aspect of a sustainable and impactful branding strategy?
A good brand name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information. It can grab peoples’ attention and make them want to know more. Ideally, a good name should communicate one key objective, which is firmly founded on your brand promise, positioning, and values and tailored to your core customer mindset. An effective brand name is memorable and enables it to carry a hugely significant portion of your brand recognition all on its own. It captures a piece of your customer’s mind. On the other hand, a forgettable brand name forces you to work much harder to make your brand visible or memorable to your customers.
Let’s explore the top brand naming strategies, from storytelling to personification, and neologisms.
Understanding the Various Types of Brand Strategy
First thing’s first, the brand naming process you move forward with is dependent upon the strategy you plan to use. You also need to have a clear understanding of your target audience and the naming conventions that will best connect with them, compel them to learn more about your product or service, and ultimately convert them into paying customers. This is the primary goal of any brand owner, to satisfy customers and maximize the return on investment (ROI). As mentioned, this begins by telling your brand story.
The Importance of Telling a Story
It’s well-understood that human beings best communicate through stories. Stories are the most memorable, compelling, and enjoyable form of communication. They provide more depth, showcase classic themes, and can build the foundation for a more robust brand.
When it comes to developing a branding strategy and brand naming, you want to consider as many ideas as possible that relate to your story. This includes descriptive names, names that connect emotionally with your target market, whether or not your brand has a service benefit, and if it should be legally protected.
Your brand name should tell the story of your past, present, and future. It should serve as the foundation for your well-established business and be a generic descriptive for your target audience to gather who you are and why they should care. In short, your brand story should captivate, convince, and convert your target audience into loyal customers.
Whether you’re starting a new company or rebranding an old one, let’s explore the most popular naming techniques for brands today.
One successful brand naming process is to use the business owner’s first, last, or nickname for the company name. The most famous examples include McDonald’s, Walmart, and Jordan Brand. By using the founders’ names or the name of the business owner, the brand personality comes to life through that individual.
Another excellent tool for many brand names is to incorporate geography. This can include the point on the map where the company was founded. It can serve as a stand-alone name or as part of a longer name. This type of brand name strategy typically holds a great deal of meaning, especially for the founders of a brand. An excellent example is Bavarian Motor Works, or BMW as it’s better known. This brand name goes back to the company’s origin in the German state of Bavaria. Another excellent example is Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, as the restaurant chain was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in Kentucky.
Many companies use personification when branding their company or considering product names. This fun naming technique incorporates sounds, such as bark or moo. This works better in certain categories, such as pet and kid-related companies versus adult-centric brands.
Wordplay is when a company chooses a brand name founded based on humor. It can be a stand-alone word or part of a longer brand name. For example, Pastabilities, Planet of the Grapes, and Jurassic Pork. Each of these brand names stand out for its funny, or rather punny, take on classic titles. This is an excellent brand strategy for those with a strong sense of humor that want it to shine in their branding.
Neologisms & Creative New Words
Still haven’t found a naming technique that speaks to you? Have no worries—the best part about brand names is that if you can’t find the ideal name, you can always choose to make one up. This is what we refer to as neologisms—made-up words that become great brand names. Take Owala, for example. It is a made-up word that has taken on a clear brand identity and represents a lifestyle and water bottle brand. So, get your creative juices flowing, and consider creating new words, words with alternate spellings, letter dropping, letter replacement, and other techniques to create a great brand name.
Another popular naming convention is to use hybrid names. Hybrid names combine a partial word or components of both brandable and descriptive names. These are excellent options because you can still have some flexibility with your brand identity and service offerings. A great example of a hybrid brand name is Inkbot Design. The term “Inkbot” is brandable; it constructs imagery that you’d associate with a print company or creative agency. Adding the more descriptive word “design” at the end clarifies that Inkbot Design is a design agency.
Naming Your Brand
The first step in naming your brand is to start brainstorming. Your best bet is to enlist the help of other creatives and schedule time for focused brainstorming. Make a list of all possible brand names and brand naming conventions such as descriptive names, trendy names, and words that can take on a new meaning.
Brainstorm & Collaborate
When considering brand names and your brand naming strategy, enlist the help of your partners and ideal customers. It is an excellent idea to complete market research and construct a focus group to test different types of names and get feedback on any creative, branding, and product names. Many consumers enjoy playing a role in overall brand strategy and are willing to provide feedback on a brand’s logo, the company’s generic descriptive messaging, and even your product line. Specific categories of products may require an associative descriptive product statement and marketing angle, and this is an excellent time to test it amongst your ideal customer.
Rebranding for Existing Brands
Perhaps you’re a business owner with an existing brand or just interested in honing in on a simple naming convention or naming strategy to enter a new product category or market. You want to set your established brand up for success, and perhaps your chosen name isn’t connecting with consumers the way you initially hoped. The good news is that a naming strategy can evolve; brand names can change to better reflect your current business, service, market, and consumers. While it may cost some time and resources, having a well-established brand requires a good foundation, and it’s okay to start over. This is what’s known in the industry as rebranding.
A rebrand also commonly occurs when two or more companies merge to create a better brand or absorb a brand in the same industry to expand their geographic reach and audience. The key is to be bold, get consumers involved, and invest your time and resources into partnering with the best and brightest. With the right executive and creative team in place, your rebrand is sure to be a success.
URL & Web Placement
When considering potential brand names for your business, our final point is to understand where your customers spend their time. If your industry is like most, the answer is likely online. Therefore, an essential part of creating your brand naming strategy is to select an easy-to-remember URL for your customers to view your products and services online. Consider the placement of your products and services online; hone in on your strategy; consider the specific categories of media that will best connect with your target market.
Your website design strategy should focus on creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing interface on which your customers can easily find your products.
There are many brand naming strategies, from storytelling to personification, and neologisms. Enlist the help of your team, from executives to creatives and consumers. Remember, once you determine your new brand name, it must be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect its brand equity—the overall value of your brand.