What’s in a Name? (Branding 101 – #3)

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The third article in the series of Branding 101 lists some basic terminologies of branding. This follows from the second in the series: Key Branding Terminologies.

A good brand campaign starts and ends with a name. After all, this is what your brand is going to be known by, for better or worse. Corporations spend ridiculous amounts of money searching for the perfect brand name; and while your budget won’t be as large, your process for choosing a brand name should be just as thorough and stringent. Here are 6 questions to ask when creating a brand name.

A Multi-Purpose Tool

A good brand name can provide many benefits to your business, not least of which is setting you apart from your competitors and create brand awareness. Here are some good angles to consider when coming up with a brand name:

Memorable. A catchy or clever name can spark brand name recall; so can a descriptive name that paints a strong mental picture. Check out this example.

Descriptive. Great names can tell your customers about what you do just by hearing it. “Super Glue”, for instance.

Evocative. Some brand names use specific words or sounds to trigger desirable impressions in a customer, such as relaxation or comfort.

Commemorative. If a company wants to establish an association with something or someone important, they can opt to name the brand after that person or place.

Don’t Get Too Attached Yet

Don’t get too invested in a name before you’ve had time to actually check if it’s already in use. Don’t restrict yourself to looking at your competitors. Someone from an entirely different industry may be using your name. Chances are, that company has been around for far longer than you—that makes it very difficult to steal the name away from them. Don’t bother trying.

If you plan on doing business internationally, check if your name means anything in a foreign language. There have been cases where brands go into a foreign market, only to discover that their name actually means something very embarrassing or offensive when translated into local speech or that it has already been trademarked and those companies would defend their brand trademarks. So watch out!

You’re still in the phase where changing a name will not have that much of an impact. So don’t be afraid to throw your favorite name away and start from the beginning if things aren’t working out.

Part of a Whole

It’s not enough to just pick a name and slap it on a sign. A name is just one component of the overall branding campaign, and you have to see how your chosen name would work with the campaign’s other elements.

Take the logo, for example. Really long brand names may not result in attractive logos. You may have to choose a shorter name, turn it into an acronym, or use only one part of the name for the logo. The Internet is also an important consideration. If the web address of your chosen name is available, maybe you have to get creative and find other ways to get some online real estate.

The Name Isn’t Everything

Or is it?

You’ve probably exerted a lot of effort into creating the perfect brand name. Used evocative words, developed a catchy phrase, and checked for any weird foreign meanings. Good job!

Now that you’re done, it’s time for you to temper your expectations. Having a good name doesn’t automatically mean customers will be beating down your door. Nor does it even mean that customers will look favorably on your company.

Marketing is a soft science, and it’s hard to predict how customers will respond at any given time. But there is definitely one thing that customers respond positively to: good products, and good service. Branding just tells people that you have it.

Finally here is a video on how to create the perfect brand name:

Many people think of naming and logo design as two different subjects entirely, but they are in fact part of the same overall domain of branding. While your logo design is what people see when they think of your business, your name will be said aloud on a regular basis and even help to determine key elements of your logo and signage. Further, your name affects your logo design and how customers view you. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a rose by any other name might not smell as sweet. It might smell downright rotten, in fact.

Many of our most popular businesses are also well named. Is this a coincidence? We don’t think so. In fact, many businesses had to change their name and rebrand before finding the success that they were seeking. Here are just a few successful modern businesses and the name that was holding them back.

Google-once was Backrub. This is the most dramatic example we can think of. Can you imagine a world without Google? Can you imagine the well known Google logo design with any other name? It’s a good thing there was a change of name in 1998, or this company might not be the internet giant we all know.

Pepsi Cola-once was Brad’s Drink. Originally named after its inventor, this world famous cola might not be the world beverage giant it now is had it not changed its name to represent two of its main ingredients, the enzyme pepsin and kola nuts. Can you imagine a ‘Brad’s Drink Nation’? We didn’t think so.

AOL-once was Quantum Computer Services. America Online, or its better known acronym AOL, is much clearer about the purpose of the company in question and also easier to write and say than its predecessor. Is it any wonder that none of us have heard of Quantum but we all have heard of AOL?

Accenture-once was Andersen Consulting. The old name was clear enough about the company’s field, but simply not catchy enough. Accenture is short, stylish, and allows for an interesting logo design, with an accent mark over the wording.

Sprint-once was Brown Telephone Company. This company has been through a variety of names but we have a feeling Sprint is here to stay. The name is short, catchy, and implies speed. Plus, it would be hard to fit Brown Telephone Company, United Telecommunications, or any of the other permutations of the brand on a cell phone the size of a credit card.

These are just a few examples, but they all illustrate one key fact: your name is as important as your logo design when it comes to branding. In fact, in many of these cases, such as Google and Accenture, the name is an integral part of the logo. If you have any questions about whether your name, logo design, and overall brand are holding your business back from success, talk to a professional logo design and branding consultant today.