A lot goes into creating an effective and unique brand. One of the first things you’ll be doing early on is figuring out what your brand should be called.
Ultimately, to create an effective brand name, the name needs to define your unique offer, communicate effectively to your target market, illustrate a specific set of values while also looking and sounding great. Certainly, no small task.
So how do you begin to choose a brand name that does all of the above while also being memorable in the minds of your ideal customer?
Below I’ve compiled 8 different techniques you can use to help generate ideas when it comes to naming your business and how you can use them to effectively name your brand and feel confident about the name you come up with.
This approach uses words that define what it is you do. Typically, the name produced by this method will highlight a key aspect of a product or service your business offers.
An example of this would be American Airlines or Hotels.com. The benefit of using a descriptive name is that it’s immediately clear to your audience what it is you do.
Acronyms are the first letter of each word in a name. Think RBC (Royal Canadian Bank) – also a descriptive name – or YSL (Yves Saint Laurent). However, because you’re abbreviating, it might not always be clear what it is your company does. To help bypass this problem, you could use the similar approach of syllabic abbreviations, an abbreviation that is usually formed from the initial syllables of the words. Federal Express took this approach when they changed their name in the year 2000 to ‘FedEx’.
This form of naming is usually taken from the name of the inventor or founder. By using personal identity to name your business, it can help convey history and credibility to your brand. Car manufacturers typically take this approach when it comes to naming, for instance, Lamborghini and Ferrari, or more recently, Tesla.
However, using a personal identity can have its downsides. If the person whose name you’re using slips up in the public eye, your own business could suffer because of it.
Using geographical location to define your brand can be helpful in anchoring your brand identity in cultural heritage. This can be particularly useful for food and beverage brands who’re wanting to capitalize on an area’s unique ingredients or history. Take Yorkshire Tea for example, the tea originates from 20 different places across Africa and India but gets its name after the North Yorkshire home the teas have been made in since 1886.
Imitate or suggest sounds associated with a product or service. This can be a great way to create a unique name for your business while implying the benefits of the services or products you offer.
ZipCar is a great example of this, as the word zip helps to illustrate the speed of their service. Or in the case of Schweppes (also the founder’s name), the carbonated soft drink company, the name chimes along with the hiss of the bottle as you unscrew the cap.
The words used for this approach either look or sounds good but do not necessarily have any relationship to the products or services the company offers. Telecommunication brands Orange and O2 have used this approach effectively to separate themselves from their competitors.
Generally, these made-up words reflect the values or uniqueness of a brand but have no actual meaning. The brand Xerox is one such example. Looking for a term to differentiate its new system, xerography was coined from two Greek roots meaning “dry writing”. The term was later shortened and adopted as the company’s name.
Using words in a different language can help give your brand another dimension of appeal. However, you must be careful to research all interpretations of the word. When the design team for the pudding brand Gü was experimenting with names, they initially played around with the word ‘gout’ which means ‘taste’ in French. However, in English, the word represents a painful disease associated with overindulgence. Not the best name when you’re creating a brand for a company that sells delicious puddings.
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