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The third installment in our 'How To' Series
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It's all in the Name.

Don't underestimate the importance of choosing the right name for your brand…

In today's overcrowded and highly competitive marketplace, brands are doing everything they can to stand out. Some crack it and some don't. But the one thing that many leading brands have in common is a strong or attention-catching name.  In the world of branding, naming translates into business.

Don't rush the process. It is your first and best shot at communicating the essence of your brand offering. By picking the right name, you are essentially already creating valuable brand equity.

Image is Everything

Before you begin the process of choosing a name, remind yourself of its 'purpose.' Ultimately, the name should help convey what your brand or organisation is all about. 

There are a few steps that one should take before deciding on a name…

Firstly, conduct a competitor audit to assess their names, logos, colour coding, tag lines and target markets to identify any common naming conventions. For example, insurance and banking names are traditionally 'safe' and conservative in order to convey credibility and trust. The audit will also ensure that you are picking an original and distinctive name.

The next step is to generate a checklist of qualities that the name needs to represent, the picture it will paint, and the range of emotions it needs to evoke. Draw up the criteria you will use to judge the potential names. Here are some suggestions:

  • Does the name relate to your brand positioning or who you are?
  • Does it convey the benefits of the brand?
  • Is it relevant to your target audience?
  • Is it believable and credible? Can you deliver on what the name suggests?
  • Is it unique and distinctive from your competitors?
  • Are the immediate associations positive?
  • Is it easy to read and pronounce?
  • Is it available as a trademark?
  • Is the name or variant thereof available as a domain?
  • Could it have derogatory associations in other languages?

Once you have established your criteria, you are free to get creative and let your imagination take over. I would always recommend brainstorming with a group, as ideas can feed off of and build upon others. Assign one person to lead the session, and list the ideas on a blackboard or flipchart. Another option is to hand out post-it notes, have each person write their suggested names on them, and then stick them up on a flipchart or pin board.

Start by downloading any names the group has already thought of. It's important to get these out as there could be some good ideas in them, but they will also block new names from coming out if people are 'holding onto' any names in their heads.

To get the creative juices flowing, begin with some fun exercises. For example, what would Richard Branson or Bill Gates call your company or brand if they were naming it? What colour or emotion do you associate with your brand/company? Make sure to capture all ideas for names. At this stage there are no bad names.

Once you have generated a good number of names it is time to start filtering.
Take a moment to remind the group that there are a few golden rules when it comes to naming:

  • Don't try to find a name that everyone likes. Find one that speaks to your market.
  • Don't try too hard to be different.
  • But at the same time, don't play it safe. You shouldn't be too comfortable with the name.

Ask the group to select up to five of their favourite names. Using their selections, compile a list of top names, and then rank and rate them against the initial criteria. Finally, choose the top three names.

The last step is to determine registration and domain availability of these top names. This might reveal that some of your names are not available for use. If you are struggling with the process and running into roadblocks, there is always the option of enlisting the services of a branding agency.

Happy Name Hunting!


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