We’ve all been there. You think of a brilliant business name, only to Google it and find someone has already beaten you to it. Despair hits. Back to square one. Last year, Australia saw a 7% increase on its number of actively trading businesses from the year before. It can feel impossible to stand out with a business name in a sea of so many fish - but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Choosing a name for your brand is kind of a big deal. It's the first thing people will see and hear about you, so it needs to be memorable, catchy, and relevant to your business. Not only that, but a brand name with strategy behind it will also:
Be aligned with your brand positioning
Embody the brand personality
Avoid negative or stigmatised concepts
Have an available trademark
Have an available URL
So, bearing all that in mind - how do you develop a strong brand name?
While it can feel tempting to choose a name for your business or brand based on personal taste or something with personal meaning, this isn’t recommended. When we think of the most memorable and iconic brand names, they share a few characteristics.
Distinctive: Your brand name should be not only unique, but instantly stand out in a crowded market.
Concise: The best brand names are short. Why? They’re easier to remember and pack a punch. Apple, Google, Tesla, Amazon, Sephora. Need we go on? Shorter brand names are also ideal for domains, email addresses and social media handles.
Depth: A good brand name has meaning behind it, usually related to the brand’s origin story or point of difference.
Euphonious: A good brand name should have a certain crispness. It shouldn’t feel stilted or jarring to say, but rather it should roll off the tongue and have a pleasing rhythm when said aloud.
Now that we have a good understanding of the characteristics strong brand names share, we can start the process of discovering our own.
“Hang on, there’s a process to this? I thought I could just pick what sounded best?”
We mean, you could. However in our experience, a strategy behind coining the name is more beneficial in the long run, for many reasons. The last thing you want is for the name to become an issue down the line because it wasn’t formulated properly in the first place. Here’s our step-by-step guide to the naming process. Ultimately, it can be broken down into five crucial steps:
We usually recommend the naming process follows a brand research and positioning phase. This means you have a good understanding of competitor and market data, which can help to shape the decision process.
It’s crucial to define your brand’s target audiences. What do they like, how do they speak, what is important to them? Try to create a name that will resonate with those people on first impression.
It’s important to use competitor data to help you choose a name that stands out - but still makes sense within your industry and doesn’t feel like a stranger.
This phase is where you start to identify key components that will make up your name, and start developing a list. Essentially, it's time to take everything we learnt in the research phase, and use it to steer the naming process.
Some useful resources for the formulation phase include:
Online Naming Tools
Remember, it doesn’t really matter how you do it. The goal of the formulation step is to come up with a decent list of raw, unrefined ideas that can be taken up a notch in the next step.
Where the result of the formulation phase is a collection of concepts, the refinement phase is where we begin to create a list of possible, finalised names.
This stage can take a while, as it’s usually where we start to trip ourselves up with overthinking. When deliberating over whether a name could make the cut, it’s helpful to imagine the name in hypotheticals.
How is the name going to look in a logo? Which of the many types of logos would best suit it? How will it live on your website? How does it sound when said on its own, as well as when used in sentences that may appear in your brand messaging?
You can begin ‘preliminary testing’ during this phase of the naming process. Each name that starts to seem like it could work, must be followed up with a thorough Google search. Obviously, the first thing to look for is whether somebody else within your industry already owns the name. You should also check whether the name is associated with any negative press or connotations.
After the refinement phase, you should have a shortlist of names.
Great, so we have a list of possible names. Now? We need to test them. This means we look at qualitative factors, like how marketable a name is, how it would look aesthetically, whether or not it embodies brand voice, and its ability to prove your point of difference from competition.
Then there’s checking legal viability and potential trademark issues. You know, the boring stuff. You’ll want to check your name is available, doesn’t encroach on another brand or business identity, and has the power to stand on its own. This is also when availability of URLs and social media channels should be checked.
The final selection of a name can be difficult. Sometimes, after so much time coming up with your shortlist, it’s a bit like picking a favourite child. However, the process is designed to illuminate which of the names on your shortlist has the most value.
We’ll be honest. In the end, you’ll know intuitively which of your shortlisted names feels right, and best aligns with your business identity and goals.
Remember, there isn’t a name out there that’s going to please everyone, no matter your industry. There will always be naysayers, both inside and outside the business. But as long as you haven’t skipped steps in the process, you’ll find the strength of your brand name stands alone as soon as life starts being breathed in.
Hitting the green button on the launch of a new brand name - terrifying or thrilling? For most business owners, it’s usually a bit of both.
But by taking the process one step at a time and making sure to lay the necessary groundwork, you should be able to develop a name and identity that sets your business up for long-term success and recognition.
Looking for an agency that can nail your brand strategy and positioning, including working hand-in-hand with you through the naming process? Drop us a line today!