December 2022

The Do’s and Don’ts of brand naming

6 minutes

Did you know that naming your brand is much more complex and challenging than you might think? Whilst we’ve all heard of somebody who simply ‘came up with the name’ overnight, it’s a much more timely and comprehensive task requiring much thought and consideration. 

When naming your business, you have to ask yourself the following:

- Is the name protectable?
- Is it different?
- Is it easy to say?
- Does it evoke a positive sentiment?

Naming your brand is one of the most important things you’ll do for your business, and it’s also one of the most challenging things to do. As experts in naming brands, we love the creative process of narrowing down words and phrases that help a company tell its story and discover a unique name that’s so authentically theirs.

In this article, we will explain the dos and don’ts of brand naming and reveal some of our secrets to helping our brands land on a name that works perfectly for them. 

The secret is in the process

We have developed a process that allows us to gather literally hundreds of names built around core themes that mean something to the business we are naming. Then our task is to narrow that list down and make a number of strategic decisions before choosing a name with meaning and a story that makes sense to the brand we’re naming.

Our workshop strategy

Now, here’s where it gets exciting. We are going to give you a glimpse into how much work goes into naming a brand – a name that elevates their brand and reinforces their business objectives.

Here’s a look into the creative journey:

Step 1

We go into research mode
This is where all the groundwork happens—everything from looking at similar brands and ascertaining their tone. We look at the names of these companies and put them into key categories that help the brand define what feeling they want to evoke, such as classic or expressive. 

We define your brand personality
We work with the brand to define the adjectives to describe the brand if your company were a person. For example, you can use adjectives like trustworthy, expert, passionate or witty, to name a few.

Step 2

Now that the groundwork is done, we can start getting creative. We begin by getting you to think outside the box. We conduct several exercises that get you thinking. We ask questions that you definitely hadn’t thought of before. We ask you a round of quick-fire questions such as ‘If your brand were a colour, a song or a plant. The more out of the box, the better.
You’d be surprised at how much you’ll learn about your brand and how it takes you out of your standard thought process and gets creative. We will come away with many themes that summarise your organisation from this process.

Step 3

The big brainstorm
Using the themes from the creative exercises, we start to throw out ideas in a series of sprints. No idea is too silly (ok, some are silly), but it’s a chance to be creative and free; just see what words trigger a new word until you have hundreds of themes and directions on the page. From this, we will strategically pick our favourite themes and distil them down to names.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Picking a Name 

There are certain rules for the smart naming of your business; here’s a few that will help you come up with a brand name that people will remember.

Don’t: Be too obvious. For example, the word Sterling which means British money or high quality, is a lovely name for a business. So lovely in fact, 700 UK companies have it in their name.
Don’t: Follow the trends and pick a fashionable name. An example of this would be tech names ending in ‘ly’ – this is super popular but may cause confusion through over-saturation within the market.
Do: Consider the context for the product. For example, avoid names that end in ‘is.’ The last thing you want is for your brand to sound like a disease or ailment. 
Do: Be careful if you’re naming the business after yourself. If you’re not well-known or you don’t have a unique name, it would be better to come up with something more fitting.
Do: remember that less is often more. People like short snappy names. You all remember the brand Seven-Up, but do you remember its original name Bib-Libel Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda? How about Pneumonia CureSalve? Not as popular as its latest name Vicks Vaporub. 
Do: Make sure you can easily pronounce it. And also that it’s pleasant to pronounce.
Don't: Include a place in your name unless your business is always going to be location specific.
Do: Make sure there is a story behind the name (our workshops will help you storyboard this.) For example, the iconic Virgin brand was named as such because Richard Branson’s team said they were all ‘virgins at business.’
Don’t: Let SEO affect your name decision. Google is an ever-changing evolution, so what might be effective in the search engines for now, may not be simple, memorable and reflective of your brand.
Do: Consider the meaning of your chosen name in other languages.
Don’t: Rule out a more abstract name. Your name should reflect a feeling of what the business is about rather than specifics. A great example is Google, which was taken from the mathematical term googol, which means 10 raised to the power of 100. 

As part of the naming journey, we need to ensure that the name is available. Whilst there is a certain level of research you can do, it cannot be done without the use of an IP lawyer. But don’t worry; we include this in our naming package.

We are always staying on top of the latest industry trends when it comes to branding and looking for inspiration from our peers. The wonderful Rob Meyerson's book ‘The Complete Guide to Creating a Name for Your Company, Product, Or Service’ is a fantastic resource for new ideas and insight. Rob Meyerson says this on the subject of naming a brand. “If you’ve come around to the idea that branding will help your business achieve its goals, the importance of brand names is hard to deny. Of all the marketing decisions brand owners make, the name is likely to last the longest. Through all the ad campaigns, website refreshes, and logo redesigns, the brand name remains.

And compared to those other marketing activities, a good name is an inexpensive way to grab attention in a crowded marketplace. Our workshops have been carefully developed at every stage using our 17 years + of brand expertise. Without a workshop like this, it can be near impossible to discover a name for your company that is unique, strategic, legally available and works with your brand strategy. 

What you need is someone who can be objective. You can be working on your brand name for months and months (we’ve seen it happen), but when it’s this personal, you need outside help. Coming up with a company name is a big decision and something that needs to last. So, don’t do it alone, let us help you. We’ve helped many companies come up with a name that is uniquely them with the story to match. Get in touch and see how we can create your new brand identity today.

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