You’re in line with your friend at Starbucks. You order your drink, give them your name, pay, and scoot politely to the side while your friend does the same. As they’re wrapping up their transaction, your ears perk up a bit.
Did they just get their own name wrong?
After some questioning, you learn that they change (or shorten) their name when ordering because their real one always gets botched. Interesting.
How about your first and last name? Are they tough to spell? Hard to pronounce? Difficult to remember? You may not have had a choice in how you introduce yourself, but fortunately, your brand does.
Names tell a story, painting a picture of where you come from, and where you’re going. It’s why some soon-to-be parents agonize for months over the perfect one. Even the “I’ll know it when I see them” approach lends a tale to be told.
Names carry a variety of implicit and explicit associations that set the stage for every other component of your brand story, and telling the right story matters. If your consumer feels “meh”, “eek”, “ugh”, or “huh?” about your brand name, how can you expect them to be excited about what you have to offer?
A good name makes the seemingly abstract feel personal (hence why your parents wouldn’t let you name that stray kitten you brought home in 5th grade). They have the power to create positive and lasting engagement with your audience, own and redefine the conversation in your industry, and help your brand rise above the goods and services you provide in a word or two.
Just think of how many times your brand name will be said or written in your company’s lifetime. It’s easily the most used, longest-lasting investment your business will make. Names help to turn small start-ups into household names, woven into the language of the cultural zeitgeist.
Google. Nike. Uber. Asana.
Besides generating more dollars than there are specks of dust on Earth, what do these brands have in common? Great names, laddering up to even better stories.
Google. A number of nearly incomprehensible size.
Nike. Goddess of victory.
Uber. Above, over, across.
Asana. A meditative pose.
The right brand name communicates the essence of your brand before anyone does business with you. It propels itself through the world on its own as a no-cost, self-sustaining PR vehicle. Backed by solid brand positioning, your name opens new doors for your business and bottom line.
It’s no wonder brands with Google-level staff and budgets got the whole naming thing down pat. Here’s the good news: you can too.
Good naming is always part of a larger strategic process at play, a catalyst in advancing your collective brand meaning. So before we get started, what story are you here to tell? Download our Brand Thinkbook for a head start.
Now that we’ve set the foundation, here are some vetting questions to get you in the right frame of mind:
Example: Apple – Named after the apple that hit Isaac Newton on the head and prompted his theory of gravity, Apple puts big ideas in reach with innovative, human-centric technology.
Example: Super Evil Megacorp – An imaginative exaggeration of the supervillain archetype from your favorite cartoons, the video game company’s name is a clear indication of their creativity, playfulness, and immersion in the industry.
Example: Google – “Googol” means a number of nearly incomprehensible size – alluding to the wealth of knowledge found with the search engine. Google is easy on the eyes and rolls off the tongue. It’s no surprise that it became a globally recognized verb. Want to know more? Google it.
Bad brand names are like a mismatched relationship. You don’t know it isn’t working until you’re in it. Poorly thought-out names can spell disaster for even the most successful of businesses, with the potential to limit business and creative opportunities, create customer confusion, or fall silent to industry noise.
Here are a few key mistakes you should avoid when brainstorming your brand’s perfect moniker (generally speaking, of course):
Example: Suzie’s Dog Walking Co.
Example: Sur La Table (pronounced Sur La Taub. Works in France, a head-scratcher in any non-French speaking country.)
Example: YOLO Boards
Your brand name may not always be the difference between closing a deal and not, but it could have a significant impact on who your prospect decides – or more likely, remembers – to call in the first place.
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