Why is your Brand Name is important?
Your Brand Name is important, because it provides your business with a personality.
Consumers don’t have to deal with a faceless entity, which gives them an impression of seriousness.
In fact, people talk about brand names as if they were talking about a human being:
- “FedEx is always on time.”
- “Wendy’s makes the best burgers.”
- “Uber has a great app.”
With a brand name, it’s not just a shipping, a fast food or a transport company.
It’s a company with personality, that stands up for the quality of its products.
How do consumers perceive your brand name?
Think of your Brand name as a battery.
Every single experience consumers have with your brand, from day one to eternity, charge your battery:
- Positive experiences recharge the battery
- Negative experiences discharge the battery
This visualisation shows that no matter how good the brand name you choose is, it will only become strong by positive experiences of consumers over time.
How do names give brands character?
Brand Names contain the most diverse associations, that give a brand character, like:
Today, hardly anything goes unbranded.
Brand names carry the positioning of the brand within them, they represent the brand values, and they can even become synonyms for entire product categories (e.g. Kleenex, Jacuzzi, Popsicle, Q-Tips, or Post-Its).
The brand name is the heart of the brand, which should guide the entire design of the brand appearance.
What are main characteristics of new brand names?
The brand name should (if newly created) signal:
- novelty and trigger interest
- independence and distinctiveness
You achieve these two properties when a name represents an entire segment and cannot be copied.
If your brand name is not independent enough, it can quickly lead to confusion.
Whenever someone starts with a new brand, first thing I notice most people do is wracking their brains about finding a compelling brand name.
Which makes sense. After all, the name defines how your brand will be called. It determines what people talk about when referencing your brand.
But deciding for a compelling brand name shouldn’t be your first step of choosing a brand name.
Why should you not start with the name?
Seriously, so many times I came across people that wanted to start their own thing and brand naming immediately was the first task on their to-do-list.
However, a brand has the purpose of providing value for customers in making their lives easier.
So you should be aware of the value your brand adds to people’s lives before you start thinking about a brand name.
If you don’t know the message you want to deliver, you might end up with a brand name that is completely out of context.
What should you do before choosing a brand name?
Before you decide for a name you should know who you are.
What is your brand identity? What’s your brand positioning? What are your brand vision and mission statement?
These elements influence everything your company does.
To come up with a unique name that suits your brand best, you must understand what makes your business unique.
It’s the first step of choosing a brand name.
Next step: brainstorming names that express the uniqueness of your brand.
Although it would be fun to just start making up awesome brand names, it’s much more efficient to approach the matter in a structured way.
Let’s explore a variety of naming types.
How do you brainstorm brand names?
A structured way to brainstorm brand names is to think in different categories of brand names.
There are six major categories:
- Founder: based on a real or fictional person. Example: Ford
- Descriptive: tells consumers what you do or what you make. Example: General Motors
- Acronym: keep your brand name short and sweet. Example: DKNY (Donna Karan New York)
- Combination: a combination of two words. Example: Facebook (Face & Book)
- Fabricated: entirely made-up names designed for differentiation. Example: Google
- Metaphor: inspired by myths, foreign, or imagery-heavy things, places, people, animals, or processes. Example: Nike (named after a Greek goddess)
Once your team starts thinking in categories, it should be relatively easy to come up with at least 20 brand names.
It’s also completely okay if the categories are not represented equally.
Everyone likes different names better and different names work better in every market and every industry.
Choose the once you feel comfortable with.
This step might be the most frustrating part of the naming process.
You’ve came up with a list of compelling brand names and now you must withdraw some names from that list. That’s a bummer!
And if it hits one of your favorites… Painful.
How to verify that your brand name isn’t trademark protected?
There are three things you should verify:
- Trademark Check: Go to US Patent Office to verify that your potential names are not trademark protected.
- Domain Check: Go to namecheckr.com to verify that a suitable domain URL is still available.
- Social Media Check: On namecheckr.com you can also verify that your names are still available on relevant social media networks (if planned).
By now you have a list of compelling brand names that aren’t trademark protected and still have relevant domain names and social media channels available.
Next, you filter the remaining names.
In order to make a meaningful preselection, the name proposals should be based on a suitable point evaluation procedure.
How do you preselect brand names?
To preselect the remaining brand names you should consider the following criteria:
- richness of association,
- clarity in the pronunciations,
- degree of novelty,
- fit to the product category,
- fit to other brands, and
- fit to the company.
Of course, every name doesn’t have to meet every criterion.
However, the following example shows how important particular criteria can be:
Why did Kitkat have a difficult launch in germany?
Long before Kitkat entered the german market there was already the brand “Kitekat”, a brand for cat food.
The Kitekat brand had very high brand awareness, so consumers had a strong cognitive connection between the name Kitekat and the product category of cat food.
To establish the name Kitkat as the name of a chocolate bar to german consumers they needed lots of advertising (and thus lots of expenses).
All in all, the “Kitkat” brand had a difficult start in Germany.
Today both brand have high brand awareness and german consumers know:
- KitKat = chocolate bar
- Kitekat = cat food
So at least you should have thought about each of the criteria above before moving on to the next step.
Which brings us to:
Okay, you have a few candidates left, of whom each could be your future brand name.
And now it’s getting serious.
You have to make a decision.
How do you choose a brand name?
To be honest, there are no guidelines for this last step.
Choose the name that you feel most comfortable with.
Pick the one that describes your brand best.
It depends on intuition and your taste only.
Your brand name should be the one most beneficial to selling your product or service.
First of all, congratulations.
You’ve successfully chosen a memorable brand name.
Finally you can move forward from here.
So go out there, register your trademark, capture a domain name and relevant social media names.
And don’t forget: A brand name is like a battery. It need to be charged by positive experiences of consumers to become a strong brand name with high brand awareness.