Everything has a name. Without a name does a thing even exist? Even before we are born, some of us already have names. Although, how many parents change their minds on sight of their new-born baby – “oh no he doesn’t look like a Jack, more of a Daniel”.
Naming is essential to communication. And whether it’s a baby, a company, a product, a galaxy, a beer or a political party, names reflect identity.
If you’re launching or re-naming a company, developing a product or offering a service, your name really does matter. It helps to establish the tone for your company, product or service and is effectively the primary handle for your brand, the first point of contact your customers will use to form an opinion. It can instantly affect the way your customers perceive you, because every word, every sound, and every letter has an impact on the way we think, feel and behave. We form connections with words based on experience, background knowledge, and context. Who doesn’t feel differently when seeing the word “puppy” versus “wolf”?
Your name should hopefully communicate desired attributes or specific benefits and over time, with consistent use and investment, it will become a valuable asset.
As with all the decisions you make to develop your company, product or service, naming is also a strategic process. Unfortunately, many companies take a more random approach which can be more time consuming and costly in the long run.
So, what do you need to consider to create or choose a name for your company, product or service?
Know what you are naming
Are you naming the company, an associated company, a product, a service, an innovation, a new technology, an idea? Whatever it is, agree what type of name is needed and what you want to do with it.
As companies expand and grow, there are more and more opportunities for the launch of new products and services – and the need to name them. So, it’s important to firstly ask whether a new brand or product really needs a name and then what relationship it will have with your main brand.
Start with your promise
Creating a name that’s truly meaningful and memorable, means starting with a solid understanding of what sets your company, product or service apart. Not so much about what you do or what type of product you create but what kind of emotional connection you want to make with your customers.
Your brand promise will help you to determine how you want to be perceived by your audience. Are you professional and innovative or quirky and modern? These qualities should be reflected in your choice of name.
Evocative or descriptive?
On opposite ends of the spectrum, names tend to either be evocative or descriptive. There are a few other types – geographical, acronyms, founder name, invented. A lot of companies use descriptive names to help their customers understand what their business is all about. However, simply describing your product or service could make your name too generic.
A better option might be to choose words that evoke the positive associations you want customers to have with your brand. For instance, “Amazon” makes you think of a huge, exotic place – great fit for what the company has become.
Be find-able, shareable and memorable
Consider pronunciation, spelling and length as a priority. Your name needs to be easily pronounced – try answering the telephone using your chosen name and see how easy it is, or not.
Be sure it’s easy to spell to increase your chances of being found in searches and other online platforms. It’s also good to avoid overly long names and be aware how the name could be shortened.
Acronyms should be avoided too if possible as your audience will have no idea what each letter stands for and therefore no idea what your brand is all about. Better to go with a name that clearly defines what the brand is so that audience doesn’t have to guess.
Is it available, is it legal?
Check that the name you choose doesn’t already exist. Duplicate brand names can also lead to legal issues, especially in related industries. Be sure to do an extensive search around the name you are considering.
As you are brainstorming ideas, check the availability of the corresponding domain name. Your domain name doesn’t have to be an exact match to your business name, but it is generally better if it is. With a product or service, you may have a bit more latitude, and not need a domain name. The domain name requirement all depends on how you will market and promote the brand.
Does it work?
It’s easy to brainstorm and come up with great names but they need to work, for you. How does the name look with your logo or on your website? Creating a brand name that you can see in action helps to make your future easier to picture.
Even if your sights are not yet on global domination, check what your name means in other languages. This is something Irish Mist liqueur failed to do, resulting in poor sales in Germany due to ‘mist’ meaning manure in German.
Creating and choosing the name for your company, product or service will take time, careful consideration and should be as future proofed as possible. If you’ve the time, and budget, conduct qualitative and quantitative research among the target market. Then plan your launch or re-naming strategy carefully, considering all your audiences. You may have involved your employees in the naming process but in any case, they are advocates for your brand so make sure to communicate with them before your customers, investors or other stakeholders.
So, what is in a name? A truly great name is one that sets you apart, that clearly captures what you promise, and helps people choose you every time. As we all experience every day, the strongest brands are ones that go beyond the physical attributes of a product, service, or company to form emotional connections with customers. Names can help do this.