Ideas + Insights

A brand name that resonates.

Tess Robinson

I went to school with a guy named Jackson Jackson. No joke. It’s funny, but it’s no joke.

At the time I thought it was weird, I guessed his parents were either stoners, super lazy, or thought it was funny to make a mockery of their very own spawn. Thinking about it now, in retrospect, however, I actually think they ticked all the boxes… If perhaps their child was a business. Either way, they succeeded with a name that was thought-provoking, memorable, easy to spell, fun to say, and would actually look great as a logo.

Choosing a great name – whether it’s for your baby or your business – is no easy feat, but it sure is important. A brand name is how a company introduces itself, the very first impression.

And how does one go about choosing a business name, you ask?

You could try your luck on a random generator like the following. Or you can dive deep, strategise and end up creating a brand name that not only resonates with your customers but delivers a memorable, meaningful experience that sticks with your company throughout time.

Your name is with you through every step of your business journey. This means coming up with the right name is probably the single most important branding concern for a business.

You’ll first need to figure out what you want your name to communicate. They tend to fall into one of a few categories; based on a founder’s name, descriptive, experiential names, made-up words and then those that are just downright random. Each of these categories tend to evoke their own unique set of feelings. When you see companies named after their founders – think the likes of Oglivy and Johnson & Johnson – it correlates to a feeling of trust, stability and confidence, right? Compare that to names that you would consider experiential – like Lush and Girlboss – and you are presented with an entirely different set of values.

Your name should reinforce the key elements of your business and reflect the foundational tone you’d like to establish with your customers.

Once a name is out in the world, the meaning of the word itself and the connotations attached to it will evolve based on how people experience the brand. The way you choose to express the visual identity, the brand story and the way your marketing affects how people engage with it. Look at Apple. If you told someone today that you were considering naming your brand after a fruit or create a completely new word as Aesop has done, they’d look at you like poor Jackson Jackson’s mother – complete disbelief in the ludicrously of it all. There will always be exceptions to the rules as all brand names, as most things in life, are subjective.

A brilliant name is the basic core differentiator of your brand. And with 300,000 brand names being registered every year, it’s imperative that your business name makes you the talk of the town, or at least enagaes someone beyond you, your mum and your massage therapist.

Here’s our checklist of 8 characteristics to consider before embarking on the naming process.

  1. Is it thought-provoking?
    Your name should set the tone for your business, think about your brand positioning – will it be disruptive, intellectual, or timid? The company name should be culturally on cue and appropriate for your values and positioning. We don’t want any repeats of Kim Kardashian’s bad taste in brand names. Try avoiding trends and cute puns that only you understand – my money is that most people won’t find them as funny as you.
  2. Is it memorable?
    Like the perfect al-dente pasta, your name should stick. Successful names have the sticky-factor enabling people to quickly bring your brand to mind when talking with friends. Names that are straight forward but also create curiosity encourages your customer to seek out further information. Great names are often short and sweet. Studies have shown that brevity lends itself to memorability.
  3. Is it unique enough?
    Before you start brainstorming or putting pen to paper, the first step is to map out the competitive landscape for your brand. When brainstorming your business name, think outside the box – customers appreciate brave, risk-taking brands that forfeit the safe option to stand out from the competition.
  4. Is it easy to spell?
    Potential customers need to be able to find you easily in a quick Google search. Not everyone was the record-holding spelling bee champion, so choosing a business name such as “Syforollayam” might not be the way to go. You want your customers to be able to find you during their quick search online, so coming up with something unique is great, but difficult spellings can often be a roadblock.
  5. Have you kept it simple?
    Don’t pick a name that is long-winded or confusing. If you need to justify your business name, you’ve failed to make an impact. Take Amazon, for example, they’ve used this name to create a metaphor marrying their business to the largest rainforest in the world. Many people think you need to go descriptive with their titles which often leads to using multiple words like Bob’s Big Bicycle Bananza. You want a short and sweet name that doesn’t leave you tongue-tied.
  6. Is it fun to say?
    Will people enjoy pronouncing it? Names that have a good “mouth-feel” like Google, Oreo, Yahoo, Ketchup and Kleenex, have a headstart on those that don’t. Invented or abstract names come with no preconceived ideas and are therefore a great blank canvas upon which you are able to paint a unique brand image.
  7. Does it sound like it Is?
    Research shows that words hold acoustic representations of their meaning by making our mouths feel a particular way. Brand names often take into consideration what is known as the “Bouba- Kiki Effect” – the non-arbitrary mapping between speech sounds and visual shape. From these studies we can see there is a direct correlation between sound, shape and meaning was obviously apparent.
  8. Does it look good?
    As a branding expert, of course I have to include the aesthetics! The letters that comprise your brand name must look distinctive. Some characters are round and full; others are narrow and slim. When thinking about the name in the context of a logo, it’s important that you marry the appropriate looking letters with your brand image and positioning.

If the cat’s got your tongue or just downright stuck on where to start, we have a team of creatives who are ready and raring. The result? A damn fine name that sets your heart and brand racing. Your brand name sticks to you like glue and will last longer than almost any other investment you make in your business, so choose wisely. No pressure.

Image credit: Ina Jang

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