The first thing you learn about a person is their name. While we rarely get to choose our own, the attributes and characteristics of a name stay connected with the person for life.
In branding, naming means business. Get it wrong and you are faced with a constant struggle to convey the desired images of your brand. Get it right and you have a great springboard to start building brand equity.
The name must represent what your brand/company stands for and create positive perceptions when consumers and employees interact with it.
1. Do a competitor audit to assess their names, logos, use of colour, pay-off lines and target markets to identify any naming conventions, e.g. banking names are mostly conservative and institutional to establish credibility and trust, as well as to help ensure you have a name that is distinctive.
2. Draw up a checklist/criteria of attributes the name needs to represent, emotions it needs to evoke and the personality it needs to portray before you start.
Generic criteria one should consider are:
3. Name generation
Now it's time to get creative. If possible, get a group together, agree on the criteria and start brainstorming names. It helps if one person can facilitate the process and write all the names up on a flipchart, otherwise, have lots of post-it notes and each write down your ideas and pop them up on a flipchart or pin board.
Start by downloading any names you already have thought of. Then do a few creative exercise to help you think differently, e.g. what would someone else (eg Google, Nike or Virgin) call your company or brand if they were naming it? What colour or animal do you associate with your brand/company?
When you are done generating names, allow everyone to choose up to five favourite names. Create a list of everyone's favourites, rank and rate them against your agreed criteria, and choose your overall top three favourites.
Now you need to check trademark and domain availability - these may indicate that some of your names are not available to use, but hopefully one of them will tick all the boxes, otherwise you will need to go back to your longer list of names and reconsider if there are any others that are suitable or that you can adapt (eg join two words together) to be suitable.
Naming is a highly subjective and challenging process; and you may want to enlist the services of a branding agency to help guide you through the process.
Once you have chosen a name for your brand/company, you need to design how it will appear as part of your brand identity. Look out for this column next month for tips on how to manage this next stage.