Now you’ve figured out your words. If you’re an already established business, you have a name that sums you up and is recognisable to your customer, but if you haven’t selected your name, or you think you may be in need of a refresh, how do you decide what your business is going to be called?
Like your logo, your name acts as a cornerstone of your brand, and should be as much a part of the brand as the product itself. To help you focus on your name, be aware that most names come within a number of categories. The first is the category of names which specifically relate to the product. Specsavers sells glasses at reasonable prices. Costco is a brand focused on value for money. Microsoft is in the business of microcomputers and software. Petbarn is a place where you can get what your pet needs. All of these brands do what it says on the tin. This is a very successful method of selecting a name, but make sure that you don’t limit yourself. For example, if you called your company ‘The Hat Company’ you’d have to be fairly sure that your main product offering would always be hats.
Then there is relevant word association. This encapsulates the product or the feeling you get when using a product without being too specific. Snooze & Forty Winks, both successful bedding companies, have summed up the product without using the word “bed”. Freedom captures a lifestyle and creates a vision of how life can be if you buy their furniture and accessories. Words from nature work very well for food companies. Words from fairytales are relevant to children’s products. If you work with word lists within a theme, the potential is exciting and limitless.
Some brands are named after their founders. Adidas originated with Adi Dassler, Bang & Olufsen was named after Peter Bang & Svend Olufsen and Harvey Norman was named in the same way. This works, and adds your personality into the mix, but you have to have a strong idea of how you’re going to market yourself, because the name of the brand is not necessarily representative of the product. My advice is that for a small or new business, using your own name works best if it enhances the personality of your brand. Kikki K is a friendly reference to its founder, for example. Be careful though. If you want to name your textile company after your grandfather’s sister’s husband’s dog, that’s great, but perhaps ‘Buster’ would work better if it had a qualification that relates it to the product, such as ‘Buster Fine Fabrics’. Scrub that, it’s a terrible name!
Abstract or made up names can also be very successful. They offer flexibility, don’t date and allow for you to broaden your range without limit. Amazon is one of the world’s biggest companies, and its name is not dependent on its product, so much so that the word is more often associated with the company than the river. Gap, the global clothing brand, was named after the generation gap that was becoming evident at the time of the company’s launch in 1969. Completely unrelated to clothes, it nevertheless works. What ties these names together is that they are unique, versatile, easy to remember and help them to stand out. Find a word or combination of words that are intriguing and turn them into a brand.
Using phrases can also be successful. The View from Here is a great little design agency in Victoria; Eat My Words is a company that specialises in brand names. This can be a memorable and quirky way to name your business.
A short note on acronymns. Try not to. They give no clue as to the product and don’t offer any kind of emotional connection to the brand. If you do have to, make sure that the full name is in evidence within your branding so you lend personality to the letters.
Before you make your final decision, here are a few hints and tips about things you need to consider first:
- Keep it simple. Make sure your name isn’t too long and complex because it won’t be memorable and won’t keep the attention of new customers.
- Don’t box yourself in. Make sure that you give yourself scope to expand without the constraint of a name that limits you.
- Check domain name availability before making your final decision. Type in your name with all the various suffixes and see whether anyone else has thought of it first. Make sure also that your name is available on social media sites because you want to be at the top of the search list. If it isn’t available, try to find a simple way of changing it so it is unique, but without making it too complicated to remember. For example, if your name is ‘Great Gardens’, think twice before buying www.gr8-gardenz.com
- This leads me to spelling. Everyone has become quite used to unusual spellings. By all means, add a twist to make you unique, but the further away from the dictionary you stray, the more complicated it is for your customers to find you.
- Stay relevant to your words. If you have decided you are artisan, retro, bohemian and organic, the name Chrome Company doesn’t reflect you. Try something that does. If you need to explain your name, you’ve failed to make an impact.
Next week, we’ll explore the design principles of logos so you can start to plan a relevant, eye-catching and beautiful symbol for your brand.