Naming isn’t the end game, rather it’s a first step.
In this article, we will attempt to shed some light on the brand naming process and will share some objective data for your consideration. When brainstorming for a name for a new product or business, should we choose strategy over creativity? What process should we follow exactly in order to choose the right brand name?
“What should my objectives be when choosing a name for my brand?”
Choosing the best brand name for a new business is not always seen as an easy decision. Yet it really should not be that difficult considering that the brand naming process is simply a part of the larger creative strategy for the business. There are very few recent studies about the naming process - perhaps the most interesting research was conducted back in 1997, when 101 brands were questioned about the process they followed when choosing a name for their business.
The main conclusion to be drawn from the results is that choosing a name for your brand or product is a highly strategic effort involving a series of clearly defined steps. A quick search on Google for “brand generator” might seem like a worthy solution to find a good brand name - it returns a list of “gurus” claiming they choose the best terms thanks to their poetic abilities, and a string of tools and random name generators. Big mistake. Here are the correct steps that you need to follow in order to choose the right name for your brand.
What is the key to choosing a name? Strategy, not poetry.
A successful brand naming process can be broken down into 4 fundamental steps:
Strategy is the first and most valuable step of all branding efforts. Analyse your industry, your competitors, and above all, yourself. What is your value proposition? Who is your target audience? Where will your brand be in the next 5 years? What about in the next 20 years? You may already know the answers to all these questions, but if you don’t, this is the perfect opportunity to come up with the answers. Thanks to this initial analysis, we will be able to pinpoint exactly what values we want to bring forward with our brand and define our differential value proposition.
After defining your brand’s differential value proposition, you will need to conjure up a creative space and let loose your imagination to explore all the meanings associated with this value proposition. Think about what everyone else is offering and follow the fundamental rule of marketing: be different.
Only once you’ve carried out the above analysis will you be ready to search for potential terms for your brand name. At this point language skills and a rich vocabulary set can come in handy, but the most important skill is knowing to search in the right places or using the right tools. Practise makes perfect, and inspiration can come from those creative avenues that you’d least expect it to come from.
By now you should have gathered an extensive list of terms that you like the sound of for your brand name. It’s time to play around with them. Add suffixes, prefixes, and try translating the terms into other languages. Mix them together and break them apart. Keep iterating over and over again, trying out all possible combinations and adjustments that might help convey your value proposition. This constant iteration will give you the best results.
Defining the perfect name for your business
Choosing the definite name for your brand will not be an easy decision. Here are some tips to help you shortlist the most worthy candidates: Sound and phonetics, What does the term sound like? ¿Does it have complex phonemes? The sound itself of the terms can transmit finesse, texture, strength. Does it reflect your value proposition?
Memorability, The primary function of a brand is to be memorable. Do you feel that your shortlisted brand names work to this effect? Put them to the test: read out your list of names to someone and ten minutes later ask them how many they remember.
Difference and noteworthiness, Back to the basics once again... be different from your competitors and offer something new to consumers.
Morphology, The composition of the letters will play an important role when you start working on your brand’s visual identity.
What factors do businesses take into account when making their final decision
According to the study mentioned above, the most decisive factors for brand naming were relevance to the industry and the connotations associated with the brand name. Adapting to other products and languages was one of the least influential factors in the decision-making process.
It isn't all about naming
If we had to come up with a name for the world’s most innovative technological company, what are the chances that we would suggest Apple? And what about a giant in the world of telecommunications? Orange? Both represent success stories of brands that have become household names. If you are hesitating between various names, know that whichever one you go for will be the right one. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, a name is meant to support the main strategy of the brand. The name and look of a brand are but two manifestations of the meanings associated with the brand. They aren’t the only ones. No amount of work to choose the right name is enough if the brand isn’t able to stick to its strategy and value proposition.
The name in itself isn’t the end game, more like the first step in rolling out a brand’s strategy.
Creating effective brand names: A study of the naming process, C Kohli, DW LaBahn, Journal of Advertising Research, 1997
The scientific study of inspiration in the creative process: challenges and opportunities, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2014