What’s in a name? Turns out, quite a lot.
Google. Apple. Nike. These and other mega brand names that we encounter multiple times daily have become part of the culture. Each name has its unique origins. (I googled how Google got its name incidentally, and it is alleged that they intended to call it googol, which is a mathematical term to describe a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Evidently, they misspelled it and ended up with Google).
Once brand names become as well known as these, it may seem like it was easy to create the name in first place. But when you set out to name a company or service it can be a tricky exercise for a number of reasons.
Our strategic marketing work sometimes involves building a brand from the ground up and this includes creating not only the look and feel of the brand and its articulation but the name as well. Our approach includes some of the following processes:
SOME KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN NAMING YOUR ORGANIZATION
- Is it memorable?
- Is the matching domain name going to be attainable?
- Are you international or will you be someday in the future? If so, be careful about words having different meanings in different regions.
- Does someone else already own it?
- Proper searches should always be done once you have narrowed it down.
- Does the sound of the name reflect how you want the brand to make people feel?
For example, if your organization provides entertainment and family fun, you might choose a name that reflects lightness and joy. A financial institution might want to portray a more stable and reliable name. A great example that runs counter to this is Tangerine. In this case, they deliberately chose a fun sounding name because they were, in essence, an anti-bank, so this decision made perfect sense. It also demonstrates the value of employing strategic marketing as early on in the development as possible. Imagine if they had called it something like The Five Star Bank in order to communicate their reliability, and then called in the marketing team after it was named and presented them with the task of spreading the word. They would already be at a disadvantage.
THREE AREAS TO CONSIDER
While the possibilities for naming are virtually limitless, a good way to get started is to think about the personality you see your brand conveying and decide which of these areas might be best suited:
In this territory, the naming strives to provide a clear and immediate understanding of the product or service. Think of airline brands. British Airways is an example of a brand stating exactly what it does. QANTAS is not.
This area of exploration can also include consideration of naming the brand after a founder. It can be a solid strategic move if that person is going to be front and centre within the brand story.
Here the exploration is more about using related or even unrelated words to evoke more of a feeling than a description. Again, Tangerine is a prime example of this. It has nothing to do with the service but is all about how you feel when you interact with the brand. It allows the marketing to be bright, playful, mouthwatering. Apple (computers or the record company, take your pick) have nothing to do with what they provide, yet they evoke a feeling. And right now I’m feeling hungry with all this talk of fresh fruit.
3. A NEW WORD:
This can be completely made up, or be created by combining two or more words to create something new, or tweaking an existing word so it becomes ownable. Car companies do this a lot. Infiniti and Lexus are luxury brands that evoke a sleek and sophisticated brand promise. Within this section, you can also include using ancient origins of words or words from other languages as part of your list-generating brainstorm sessions.
The addition of a well-crafted tagline can also go a long way in helping to establish what the brand is all about, particularly during the start-up phase. Typically a tagline has a shelf life and can evolve over time.
A COUPLE OF QUICK TIPS
Get the names down and try not to edit in the early going. One name will lead to another if you keep the space open. Invite informed stakeholders into the room and have fun.The thesaurus is a really great place to start. Punch in a feeling or a mood and see what inspiration pops up.
A final note. If you are fortunate enough to be starting from scratch, you have an enviable opportunity to create a name that is deeply entrenched in the DNA of your overall brand story. This means BE STRATEGIC! A name is not an add-on once everything else has been taken care of. It is part of your overall message.
Call us if you’d like to talk more about the strategy behind naming a brand, or strategic marketing in general.