6 Tips for Successful Brand Naming
Naming your brand and product is one of the most difficult tasks a marketer faces, and all too often it gets short shrift. Many people think that if you can name a pet, then it isn’t too hard to name a company or a product. But there are many pitfalls.
Here are six tips for easing the process.
- Start with a free-flowing brainstorming session. Invite 4-5 of your most creative colleagues and at least one of your left-brained stakeholders. Each has a role to play. Launch the session with a quick review of your brand strategy and your competition; what is your promise of value? How do you deliver differently? How do customers perceive their interactions with your company? Generate every possible name, word, or phrase that might capture an aspect of your brand. Consider Latin or Greek variations. Everything is fair game. From the crazy and the quirky ideas often comes the best name or at least the right path. Narrow the list to 15-20 possibilities.
- Study the competition again in light of your list. Start to cull the list. If all the competitor names are descriptive, then move toward more emotive names. If certain competitors are viewed negatively, make sure your name isn’t at all similar. Look for gaps in the competitors’ thinking that can put distance between your name and theirs.
- Regroup and amend the list. Having slept on the names and studied the competition, revisit and narrow down. Make sure your vision and the name can work in the long term. You don’t want to outgrow a name in a year or two. Check for domain name availability and eliminate names with no close alternatives.
- Do a knockout trademark search of the final list. Hire a law firm to do this search to reduce the chance of any legal surprises down the road. CEOs don’t like marketing investments that get derailed by “cease and desist” letters. Law firms that specialize in trademarking offer reasonable fixed fees, speedy responses, and plain English explanations of your risks. Don’t get attached to any single name until you take this step.
- Create brand mock-ups. Based on your legal reports, pick the top 2-3 names and create some basic mock-ups – logo, package design, icon, or ad. How does the name look? How does it sound? Is it easy enough to say? How does the name look juxtaposed with the competitors’ names?
- Test your names. No, not just with your spouse and not with your clients who already know you. If you can’t afford a true market research study, at least lean on your network and talk to some members of your target audience.
Once you’ve settled on a name, make sure to write up the story behind your choice. Your internal audiences will need that as much as potential buyers. And just remember—great naming takes some thought and more than a day to create.