Good or bad, a brand name is like having a tattoo; it’s with you forever and is never something you want to regret. So if you’re rebranding a company or starting a new one, determining a brand name can be a difficult decision-making process. We believe it’s better to name the company accurately from its inception—but we also understand that businesses evolve, and some things are out of your control (such as when a company inherits a name through growth acquisition). Brand name changes for existing companies are challenging yet necessary if the company needs to change direction or take on a new brand identity.
In order to create a brand impression that will resonate with consumers, it’s most important for business owners to choose a name that aligns with the company—such as from a products, services, values, or even a differentiation standpoint. In this article, we’ll provide you with 12 tips on how to create a better brand name for your business:
If you want your company name to be significant in the minds of consumers, consider a title that is simple, yet effective. Think of today’s leading companies: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Coca-Cola, etc. Each company has a precise name that is easy to remember. Simplicity can be the key to creating a memorable brand name.
The brand should sound good when saying it aloud. If you didn’t know this before, Google was first named “BackRub” in 1996. Within the next year, the cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin changed the name to Google, which was one of the smartest things they could’ve done. Could you imagine going to backrub.com to do your daily searches? By changing the company name to Google, Page and Brin demonstrated how a profound name can change a society’s view of a word. When we think of searches, we don’t say “hey, can you search that for me?” we say “hey, can you google what that means?”
3. Avoid confusing misspellings
It can be more beneficial for brand names to be spelled correctly so that consumers can find your company online. While some misspellings might do right by the company, creating a confusing brand name could make finding your company online difficult for consumers.
Back when Flickr was just starting out, the company lost over 3 million annually because visitors would go to flicker.com instead of flickr.com. This continued until Yahoo bought out the company and was able to secure the flicker.com domain. By correctly spelling your company name, your brand will have a higher chance of being found in online searches.
4. Be specific
Specific brand names resonate with consumers because they are able to gain a deeper understanding of what to expect from your product or service. 5-Hour Energy is a great example: the brand name informs consumers on exactly what to expect from the product.
It’s important to do research to ensure you can trademark your brand name. If you don’t do this, you could run into issues with other companies in the same industry using a name identical to your own. If your brand name isn’t trademarked, you’ll have to go through a lengthy legal process to secure your title. You can search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website to see if the brand name you’re seeking is “live.” There are three options on the USPTO’s site: live, dead, and abandoned. If the name is live, you’ll need to choose a different brand name.
Due your due diligence. Be sure to perform online/offline research to make sure that no one else is using the same brand name. The last thing you need is to pick a name that’s been trademarked by a company in the same industry and end up in a lawsuit.
Another thing you’ll want to do is choose a name that is timeless. It’s simply a bad idea to select a name that’s based on a fad or is trending. While this might be great for the business temporarily, it will most likely be short-lived. Fad names are usually popular for a short amount of time, then forgotten due to new trends arising every day. It’s best to choose a company name that can remain relevant with consumers for a very long time.
7. Define the Company
When naming a brand, choose words that best describe the company. The company Overstock is now spending major dollars airing commercials to explain what their name actually means. They don’t sell overstocked goods, but “beautiful new furniture and the latest in home trends.” The best scenario is for customers to have a sense of what your brand is just from the name, so they can have a quick and lasting grasp on your company’s purpose. For example, Sprint is great example of a defined brand name, as the company is modeled after fast, great mobile service.
8. Align with brand values
Being aware of the brand’s values and beliefs can be important when naming a company. Many businesses are named after their founders (Gartner, Ford Motor Company, JCPenney). Because of this, those names can serve as the face of the brand.
When implemented correctly, companies named after the founder can be used to represent the Founder’s ideals or beliefs. Consider the infamous American ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. The two co-founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, don’t hold back when it comes to using their platform to fight back against societal issues. They are completely immersed in their company and are able to connect with their target audiences through supporting causes that align with themselves and their customers, which immerse them deeper in humanity.
Alternatively, though, brands named after the founder can lose meaning if the company is sold, or if the founder retires or does something that is negative in the public eye. This can damage the business and cause ongoing repercussions for the business owner and their family. Another idea is to name the business after an ideal or value that is aligned with the company’s actual product or service offerings.
9. Avoid acronyms
While acronyms can be fun to put together, it’s rare that consumers will know what each letter of the word stands for. When you think of companies like DHL, could you guess what the acronym stands for? Would you have guessed Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (the three founders of the company)?
10. Be Clever
You can always create your own brand name by interweaving words that reflect or depict your brand’s persona to resonate with your target audience. Take Facebook or LinkedIn–while these words were completely made up, the names still align with the essence of each organization. LinkedIn “links” business professionals together through a social networking site. Facebook connects you to familiar faces.
11. Be memorable
The brand name should resonate with each person that comes in contact with it. Think of FedEx, the delivery service company. FedEx is memorable not only because they’ve been around decades; but also because when the name was abbreviated from Federal Express to FedEx, the creators were cleverly innovative: between the letters “E” and “X” is an arrow that symbolizes the fast, forward-moving service the company provides.
A complete rebrand of the company was done along with the name abbreviation. Since FedEx had multiple services under various titles such as RPS, FDX Logistics, and Roberts Express, this was partly done to unite the company under one name. By doing this, FedEx was able to gain brand recognition through an enormous number of tangible touchpoints such as delivery trucks, delivery carriers, and supplies. The rebrand was a huge success and the company is now further engrained into the minds of consumers as a top delivery service provider.
12. Online Availability
If your preferred domain isn’t available, it’s best to start from scratch and choose a name that has an available web address. We advise to not drop any letters in the brand name just to get close to your desired domain; as we’ve already discussed in #3, this can result in your company losing online traffic due to consumers not knowing the correct spelling (i.e. Flickr). A .com extension can show credibility, importance, and longevity. If you feel that having this specific extension is important for the company, we recommend that you craft a brand name with an available .com extension versus settling for one that isn’t available.
You are a forward-thinking entrepreneur. By taking the first step to reading this article, you’ve already proven that you want to take your company to a new level—one that relates to consumers starting at the brand name itself. At IDealogic®, we believe that choosing a brand name that aligns with the brand’s persona is an essential first step to establishing a strong brand identity. We are the experts in this space! If your business needs help, contact us here.