How to create a great and saleable brand name
Many people have asked what is in a brand name?
Does the brand name actually determine the success or otherwise of your business?
Is creating a brand name worth overthrowing?
Should one (a startup) even consider paying a brand strategist to create a brand name for them?
Well, that will ultimately depend on a few factors (more on this later).
However, in as much as brand name is not the most important factor in the expected success of a venture yet it is still important one choose it carefully. Of course it has a role to play as we will see later on. So whether you think it matters or it does not matter it is still important that you create or choose a brand name that on its own communicates value to the customers.
Of course it has to do with the customers. This is because customers will always want convenient ways of identifying, remembering, discussing, and comparing brands. The right name can (surprisingly) become a brand’s most valuable asset. It can become the main factor driving differentiation and speeding acceptance in the market.
Of a truth creating a brand name can sometimes be very difficult. And that is why most people go for a name generating tool (I don’t recommend this). Others pay people to create one for them. But honestly you can create a great and saleable brand name on your own.
So today, we are going to discuss the step by step approach to creating a saleable brand name by yourself.
Important Traits of a Good Brand Name?
Honestly speaking, brand names can be more powerful than most of us would want to believe. Beyond creating an identity that people can associate with, they also create perceptions (in the minds of customers) thereby letting customers know what to expect. So obviously, there is a lot of power in a brand name.
In fact, brand names can even lend credibility and assure customers of the quality of a given product. But the question is what exactly makes for a great brand name? There are several theories on what makes a great brand name. For example, a 2010 University of Alberta study found that consumers have a more positive reaction to brands with repetitively structured names, such as TikTok, Tomo Tom, Kit Kat, and Jelly Belly, Hubba Bubba, Tutti Frutti, Bits & Bites, Lululemon and PayPal
Well, I don’t think there is a one formula fits it all for creating a perfect brand name. However, there are common characteristics that make a brand name easier for the owner and also for others to associate with. I highlight a few of them below:
Won’t it make sense if your brand name at least connotes something? Come to think of it by the time you mention your brand name someone is most likely going to ask “what does it mean?”
So before you create or put out any term out there as your brand name think through it. It should be able to communicates your brand essence. It should conjures an image, and cultivates a positive emotional connection especially with customers.
Hey, there is absolutely no pride using the exact same ‘family name’ every other person in your industry is using already. If you do you stand a chance of been swallowed up. It just speaks for you to be distinct.Attempt to create a brand name that is unique, memorable, and stands out from your competitors.
Aside standing out in your industry it is also important that you create a brand name that is geographically distinct. This is particularly more important if you plan for the brand to be dominant in a given location.
So before you go far in your branding efforts, conduct a quick search to find out whether other businesses in your geographic location share the same or very similar name. Now, even if these businesses aren’t in the same industry as yours, it still matters. You don’t want a situation where there will be confusion each time the brand is mentioned because people wants to know whether they are referring to the restaurant or the car wash. And once there is a brand name confusion among your audience it could potentially dilute your name’s value.
How beautiful it will be if at the mere mention of your brand name people just understand what the brand is all about. Of course you may want to counter this by asking me what in the word ‘Uber‘ tells of what the company is all about. You will be right if you do. But let me remind you that you are not yet Uber and you don’t know when you will get there. So why not make your journey easier if you can.
So when you want to create a brand name, in your brainstorming consider and ask yourself:
- Who are we?
- Why do we do what we do?
- What are our values?
- What makes us different?
- Where do we come from?
- What is our personality?
Understanding the answers to these questions will help inform the naming process and ensure you come up with a name that uniquely reflects who you are.
It does not help your cause much to go with a brand name that no one can remember nor pronounce. So find a name that is simple, easy to pronounce, and evocative. The shorter and the simpler the better. Try to create a brand name that is easy to spell and easy to search online. Who is complaining about brand names like Moz, Nike, Uber, Apple etc?
Developing a brand takes time, it takes effort and most importantly it takes a lot of resources. If you doubt this go and ask Mark Zuckerberg. Report has it that rebranding from Facebook to Meta has cost nearly $10 billion. You don’t want to choose a name today, invest so much in developing it and then change it after a short while. So it’s important to choose a name that will last as your business grows and evolves. In choosing a brand name it is important to think many years and if possible decades from where you are.
There can be that temptation to easily create or choose a brand name based on what is trendy at the moment. But I think you should be wise enough to resist that. Don’t be fast to latch unto trends that are here today and gone tomorrow, unless of course you are willing to start all over.
Create a brand name that is flexible enough to accommodate your growth. Let it accommodate your future strategies, new products and acquisitions.
Don’t limit yourself by the brand name you create today.
The last quality I want to mention and which you need to consider in creating a brand name is your ability to protect or defend the name if legal issues arise. Consider creating brand name that you can trademark it. A brand name that the domain is easily available and something you can own in every sense of it.
7. Positive Connotation
If you can consider a word that is universal when you want to create a brand name. This is especially important if you intend to go global with your business.
Now you might start small but later when you get an opportunity to expand your brand into other countries, states, or cities having a negative meaning in the brand name will affect you a lot. I once read that this is one of the factors that affected 7UP and uts expansion plan in Shanghai, China.
How to Create a Saleable Brand Name
Now that you know the important features of a great brand name, let’s go over to how you can create one.
For some, it takes so much time, effort and money to create a great brand name.
For example, Warby Parker Cofounder Neil Blumenthal says it took his team six months and 2,000+ options to find the perfect name.
But you don’t have to invest that much. However, that is if you are going to stick to the proven steps I want to share with you.
So, here’s our step-by-step guide to create a great and saleable brand name irrespective of your industry.
Step 1: Brainstorm with Your Team
The first step I recommend when it is time to create a a saleable brand name is to set up a brainstorming team. By all means try not to do this alone. You might not be able to see the error in that ‘beautiful’ brand name in your head if you work alone.
So, it is always best to convene with your business partners or relevant stakeholders to create a great name for your brand. Together you can throw in ideas, words and phrases that might eventually form your brand name.
Many people preach that you start by setting some sort of boundaries on what names are acceptable. Though that is a strategy that can work, but I prefer to allow people the freedom to throw in any name that comes to mind.
In fact, for me, the trick is to come up with as many names as possible. List them all down, and slowly tick away the bad ones until you are left with the best candidates.
At this step I will suggest that you don’t set any limit to the number of names you can come up with.
Step 2: Consider What Your Brand is All About
Now you have a list of fantastic and brilliant names. But guess what some of them may not just apply. I mean some names don’t just represent certain products. So it is important you consider what your business is all about at this point.
You don’t want to choose Foodinet when you are starting a shoe company.
Of course once again you might ask me what on earth will tell someone that Apple is a brand that makes gadgets yet they are this successful. But once again also, I remind you that you are not Steve Jobs – at least, not yet.
So you might consider removing from your list any name that connotes what your business or product is not about.
However, from the pool of names shortlisted in step one above work hard to retain up to 10 – 15 names at this stage.
Step 3: Look at Your Differentiators
Understanding what makes your brand unique is the key to finding a brand name. You want to keep these differentiators in mind as you move through the naming process. Remember: You aren’t just looking for a great name. You’re looking for a great name that is for you.
By looking at your competition, you get a better sense of how you can stand out through every aspect of your branding.
You can narrow down to 7 to 10 names here.
Step 4: Check the Availability
You might end up landing yourself in an unnecessary and avoidable legal battle if you just choose a name because you love it. No matter how much you love a name, you need to check and ensure that no one is using it.
There’s no point in testing anything that’s already taken, so you need to vet your frontrunners.
Narrow your differentiated lists to say 5, then search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database of registered trademarks. If those names are all taken, I am afraid you may have to start all over. But hopefully by the time you check 5 unique names one will be available.
And imagine you search and all 5 are available, then thumbs up – it then a matter of choice.
As you are searching the name registration you may also want to search the availability of the domain name.
Step 5: Put The Name to Test
Now that you’ve cleared the legal hurdle, here comes the most exciting part. You get to create your mockups (think logos, product packaging, and homepages), and test your top three names. You may be surprised at what resonates with people.
Here’s one simple and easy testing idea, courtesy A startup lawyer Steven Cook gave us a simple idea of how to test the final names that are cleared:
- Build a branded landing page for each name. Use identical copy and only change logo/brand name.
- Run a highly targeted Facebook ad to your target customers for a week.
- See which page got more conversions.
The name with most conversions is the one that easily resonates with customers.
Can you now see that creating a great and saleable brand name is a lot of work? More importantly it can contribute to the success of your business more than you know.
But the good news is that it is worth every cent or second invested in it.
Also it is important you make these investment to get it right the first time. Though we have seen some brands that went ahead to become very successful despite changing their first brand names, but the cost can be high especially for a startup that is still bootstrapping.