The Great Name Debate: How to Choose a Killer Name for Your Brand

You’ve got a great product or service, a market that is eager to buy, and you’re almost ready to launch.  There’s just one hitch – what’s your name?  A great brand name can be the difference between a successful brand (think Sprite) and a not-so-successful one (sorry, Isis Chocolates).  But choosing a name is not to be taken lightly.  Your brand name will ideally communicate something to your intended audience, so consider these things before you begin:

1.     Align With Your Vision

Where do you see your brand 5 or 10 years down the road?  By matching your company goals with your name, you can influence what you want the consumer to associate with your brand.  Do you want to be a brand that is warm and inviting?  How about a brand that will help a customer be the best in their field?  For example, the name “Nike” conjures images of the Greek goddess of victory, a smart move for a company that stakes its name on providing the best in sportswear.  A name that aligns with your vision for the company will make your marketing that much more impactful.

 2.     Think Digitally

Gone are the days where someone’s first touch point with you was through a newspaper.  More often than not, consumers will encounter your brand for the first time digitally.  Word-of-mouth is still your most powerful form of advertising, and according to a recent study, 38% of respondents have recommended a brand they follow on social media.  With this in mind, make sure your brand name works in a digital environment.  Don’t make your brand name something long if it can’t be abbreviated easily, especially when it comes to the creation of social media handles, which might come with character limits (i.e. Twitter).  A short name is easy to remember and will keep URLs and handles from becoming unruly – think names like Uber, Google, and Airbnb.  

3.     First Does Not Equal Best

You’ve thought of one name and everyone likes it – that means you’re done, right?  Nope.  Your first option is probably not going to be your best.  Like we said, a good name has to communicate something to the consumer, and determining what that something is takes work.  One name won’t do – you’ll need many, many options to choose from.  Once you have these options, conduct interviews and focus groups to understand how real consumers react to potential picks.  You’ll save yourself the embarrassment of debuting a name that no one but you and your team likes.

 4.     Don’t Duplicate

It may seem common sense, but make sure no one else is using your chosen name before you commit.  Entrepreneur has some great advice on how to go about doing this.

5.     Bonus:  When It Comes to Rebranding, Equity Matters

If you are undergoing a rebrand and deciding whether to keep your original name or go with something new, remember – one of the most important things your name can give you is equity.  Imagine if Coca-Cola decided to change their company name now.  Crazy, right?  While you might not be at Coke levels, your current name might still mean something important to consumers.  This is another good time for surveys.  Talk to your customers to determine the brand equity of your current name.  If your research shows that it isn’t that important to them, then consider all the points above when choosing a new one. 

Amongst the considerations for a new company, a great name can take your product far.  Just remember, it isn’t something to be undertaken lightly, and should ideally be born from research and careful consideration.  Check out our blog on conducting research for rebranding for some additional tips.