This blog was originally published on Successful Blog on June 12, 2015

In the US alone, 543,000 businesses start up each month. Whether those businesses are large corporations or just one guy selling T-shirts online, they all need a name. Most large companies can afford to hire a professional naming agency like us here at Catchword Branding, but what about the little guys? Have no fear! We believe that everyone, big or small, deserves to have a great name. Let these naming tips serve as a jumping off point for creating a great brand name. And after you feel good about your strategy, you can dive even deeper with our naming guide and other naming resources.

1) Stare at your palm and ask, “Who are we?”

The first step to any successful naming project is to convene with the key stakeholders of your brand, which could be a product, company, or service. Really think about what makes your brand tick. What makes you unique? Are you the practical jokers, like Playstation? The sages, like Google? The outlaws, like Xbox? These are examples of a brand’s archetype, which, when defined, can help you choose how you will communicate your brand to your audience. This will be the foundation upon which your name will grow.

2) Look up from your palm, and stare down the competition

Explore the competitive landscape to see what sorts of names are out there. Often you will notice that there are identifiable trends. There are literally hundreds of cloud computing companies whose names include Cloud in some way, like Cloud One, Cloud Web, Cloud Bus, etc. While most brand stakeholders gravitate towards names that sound familiar, this leads them to just regurgitating what’s already out there! Be brave and go against the grain. Choose a metaphorical name to stand out from a cloud of descriptive names or coined name in a land of real-word names. A great name makes you you and not you them.

3) Now look at who’s standing with you

You should always think about your customers before embarking on your naming project and remember that there are many customers that you don’t have yet. What language do they speak? What do they enjoy? Who do they love? Your name can address some of these questions. Clif Bar is a great name for the outdoorsy consumers who buy organic, whereas PowerBar appeals to the consumers who want pure, invigorating energy. Whatever name you choose, make it resonate with your audience.

4) Look over your portfolio or get ready to have one

Brand architecture refers to the way that one company’s products or services are named in relation to each other. Even if you’re naming your first product or service, make sure that you choose a name that can be built upon if needed. Or, if what you’re naming will be part of a line of products that already has a naming protocol, do not stray from it. Take Lexus’s alphanumeric car names as an example. The IS, ES, GS, and LS sedans all follow the same naming pattern. Brand architecture allows your customers to easily identify and compare what you have to offer.

5) Now stand up, and take a look outside

Consider in which contexts will you use this name. Are you naming an App for which there is a strict character limit? Will your name be travelling to foreign language speakers where it may encounter unanticipated negative associations? The name Cosm sounds pretty hip to us English speakers, but in German it sounds very close to kotzen, which means “to vomit.” Will your customers be spreading your name via word of mouth? If so, it should be pretty intuitive to spell. Also, If you’re planning on registering a domain for your new name, ensure that it makes sense when spelled out in lowercase letters. Would you believe that penisland.com used to be an island-themed pen store? Lastly, don’t get too hung up on getting an exact domain name because these days, you probably won’t without pretty dep pockets. It’s really not a big deal to add a modifier to your domain name, just like we did here at catchwordbranding.com.

 

Consider these five tips and do the soul searching before you start naming. We promise it will help you arrive at a robust list of names that communicate who you are as a brand. Naming is a long process, but it’s time worth spending because your name is the first thing that your customers will see. It is a vehicle that can drive your customer to images, emotions, and memories. And with some work, you can steer them right where you want.