Naming brands – how hard can it be?

Coming up with a brand name is easier said than done. All of your ideas seem to be taken. Or they sound too similar to something else. Or they just don’t fit right. After all, how do you encapsulate the entire brand into one or a few words?

It’s important to remember that names aren’t the most important element of a brand. If your product or experience isn’t up to scratch, a great name isn’t going to convince customers to come back. But you also need to keep in mind that while a name isn’t going to make your brand, it might be able to break it. Just ask Ayds, a diet candy that sold well before the mid-80s when awareness spread over the similarly named disease.

Here are some of the things you need to consider when naming a brand:

Is it easy to say?

Brand names that are hard to pronounce run the risk of being too confusing. When people talk about your brand, you don’t want most of their conversation to focus on how to pronounce it. If you don’t want to spend marketing money letting people know how to pronounce your brand name, go with something that’s easy to say. Still, some of the most successful brands out there are pronounced wrong on a regular basis. Hermēs, Nutella, Ikea – all of them look relatively simple but there’s a good chance you’ve said at least one of them wrong at some point.

Is it easy to spell?

Some people are going to hear about your brand through word of mouth, and if they’re interested, they’re likely going to Google it to find out more. But if they struggle to spell it correctly it’s going to be harder for them to find. If you have the option to spell your brand name simply, take it. After all, how many more brand names do we need with half the vowels missing from them?

Is it easy to remember?

Brand names tend to be on the shorter side for this reason. A brand name that’s easy to remember is easier to recall, so they’ll be at the top of customer’s minds. But don’t feel you have to stick to a shorter name for this reason. There are a couple of longer brand names that work well such as Look Mum No Hands, a bicycle/coffee shop based in London. Plus, your customers might just shorten the name for you, like Chevy for Chevrolet or HuffPo for The Huffington Post.

Is it taken?

This one’s a no-brainer but it has to be said. When you’re choosing a brand name, make sure to check it’s available to trademark. Also, don’t worry too much if you have a name you love but the URL is taken. This is much easier to work around than completely changing the name for an available URL.

Will it work in other countries?

You might not be thinking about taking your brand overseas right now but you never know what might happen. And with the internet, you might receive international interest right away. You don’t want your brand name to be an obstacle if you take your business abroad, so it’s worth taking the time to see if your brand name translates well. Otherwise, be prepared to go through the naming process again to come up with something more suitable.

Will it work for your brand in the future?

There’s every chance your business will diversify or change over time, and if your name only describes what you originally did, it’s going to be quite limiting and even confusing to customers.  You need to give your brand room to grow so try to steer clear of anything too specific.

One of the hardest things about naming is that there really are no rules (aside from not taking someone else’s name). There’s no way to know for sure if people are going to love it or hate it.  But a name is only one element of a brand. Sure it will help if it’s meaningful and memorable, but a product/service by any other name would be as good, right?

Annabelle MayorComment