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This Chapter:

Name

Name
By Mark Brinn
Discover the compelling role of a brand name in shaping consumer perception and interaction. This guide delves into the importance of a strong brand name and equips you with creative techniques to craft your own. Additionally, learn the practicalities of securing your online presence and delve into legal aspects to ensure your chosen name is protectable.

Brand Name Basics

Think about it like this: your brand’s name is the first thing people see, the first thing they interact with. It sets expectations, sparks curiosity, and invites engagement. Just like a book cover, your brand name should be compelling enough to make people want to open it up and see what’s inside.

Shaping Perceptions

Your brand name also plays a crucial role in shaping people’s perceptions of your brand. It’s the label that gets attached to all the experiences, emotions, and associations people have with your brand.

It’s the word that becomes synonymous with your brand’s identity, purpose, audience, and speciality. A name like Patagonia could resonate with outdoor lovers and bring thoughts of wilderness areas that need to be protected.

Memorable and Meaningful

A strong brand name should be memorable and meaningful. It should stick in people’s minds and resonate with their hearts. It should tell a story, convey a message, or evoke an emotion. It should be a word or phrase that people can connect with and relate to.

It needs to be short and to the point. A long name with big words like International Business Machines could prove to be too long and difficult to translate to certain languages. A shorter name like IBM could be more appropriate.

Future-Proof and Protectable

Your brand name should also be future-proof and protectable. It should be versatile enough to evolve with your brand and unique enough to be legally protected. It should be a name that can stand the test of time and the scrutiny of legal checks. A name based on current technology like American Telephone and Telegraph could become outdated (it did) and force a name change or an abbreviation to an acronym like AT&T.

Positive Associations

Lastly, your brand name should be capable of positive associations. It should be a name that people can associate with positive experiences, emotions, and values. It should be a name that can inspire trust, admiration, and loyalty.

So, would a brand by any other name still sound as sweet? Probably not. Because a brand name is not just a name. It’s a powerful tool that can shape perceptions, create connections, and drive engagement. It’s a word that can encapsulate your brand’s identity, purpose, audience, and speciality. It’s a word that can tell a story, evoke an emotion, and create a lasting impression.

So choose your brand name wisely. Because a sweet sounding brand name can be the key to a sweet tasting success.

Techniques for Creating a Brand Name

Creating a brand name is like crafting a character for a novel. It’s about encapsulating the essence of your brand in just a few words. It’s a delicate balance between art and science. Let’s dive into some techniques to help you create a brand name that will stick in your customers’ minds.

Real Words

Using real words as a brand name is a tried and tested method. Think of brands like Apple, or Shell. These are everyday words, but they’ve been transformed into iconic brand names. They’re simple, memorable, and they tell a story. Unfortunately for us modern brand builders, as time marches on (and more and more companies come into existence) these types of names are increasingly hard to come by.

Made Up Words

So, we’ve got to get creative. One way to do that is invent a new word. Like Google, Kodak, or Spotify. These names can be easy to trademark, with the tradeoff that it can be a little harder to build brand recognition, as people need to learn the new word.

Acronyms

Acronyms, they’re like shorthand for brands. As stated earlier this can be a good technique if you want to have a longer name. IBM, KFC, H&M, they’ve turned complex names into simple, memorable ones. One thing to note if you are considering this approach is that three letter domain names can be extremely pricey.

Descriptive Names

Straight to the point. That’s how Toys ‘R’ Us, General Motors, and The Home Depot did it. They tell you what they’re selling without any fluff. It’s like using bold strokes in your artwork, clear and unambiguous. The trick here is to balance utility with creativity – you don’t want to sound generic. The Home Depot has a certain ring that Building Materials seems to lack.

Geo-Based Names

Some brands like to map their identity. If your brand has a sense of place, like Southwest Airlines, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, or New York & Company, show it off. Especially if you are opening a brick-and-mortar that will do a lot of local business this can be a good way to go.

Compound Words

Two words for the price of one. Brands like Facebook, Snapchat, or Mastercard. It’s the beauty of combining colors, two become one and create something new and vibrant. This can be a great way to create a new word that’s more memorable than one that’s completely made up.

Misspelled Words

It’s like abstract art. Take a word, change a few letters, and voila, you’ve got a brand like Froot Loops, Flickr, or Tumblr. It’s fun, unique, and certainly memorable.

Foreign Words

Add a touch of the exotic. Like Volvo, Starbucks, and Häagen-Dazs. (Häagen-Dazs is actually a completely made up name that was created to sound foreign.) It’s like adding an unexpected color to your palette, drawing intrigue and curiosity.

Personification

Give your brand a face. Like Ben & Jerry’s, Ford, or Wendy’s. It’s like painting a portrait, creating a connection and evoking emotion.

Alliterations and Rhymes

Names are meant to be spoken. Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, PayPal, and Coco Chanel have taken advantage of that and made their names fun to say. Make it catchy and compelling.

Name Generators

Sometimes the sheer number of possibilities can be overwhelming. You might find yourself stuck in a creative rut, or simply desiring some inspiration to get the wheels turning. That’s where business name generators come into play. These handy online tools can spark ideas, suggest names based on keywords, and even check domain availability.

Shopify, an e-commerce platform, offers a free business name generator that can be a great starting point. Simply input a keyword that you want your brand name to include, and voila! The generator will produce a list of available names, each of which comes with the availability status of a .com domain.

Namelix is another fantastic tool that goes a step further by providing visual insights into how your brand name might look. Namelix generates short, brandable names and even provides you with logo mockups, making it easier to visualize your brand. It also checks domain availability and allows you to choose the length of the name and the type of names (e.g., misspelled, compound, etc.) you prefer.

Ensuring Your Brand Name is Available

Domain Name

First things first, let’s talk about your domain name. It’s your brand’s home on the web, your digital storefront if you will. And just like any prime real estate, you want to make sure it’s available and you can claim it.

  1. Search it up: Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap to check if your desired domain name is available. If it’s not, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of variations and extensions (.net, .co, .biz) you can explore.
  2. Buy it: Once you find an available domain, snag it. It’s a small investment that can pay off big time in establishing your brand’s digital presence.

Social Media Handles

Next up are your social media handles. They’re your brand’s voice in the digital crowd, and you want them to be consistent with your brand name.

  1. Check availability: Use a tool like Namechkr to see if your desired handles are available across different social media platforms.
  2. Claim them: Even if you’re not planning on using all social media platforms right away, it’s a good idea to claim your handles to prevent others from taking them.

Remember, consistency is key in branding. Your domain name and social media handles should align with your brand name, creating a seamless and unified brand experience. You can’t always get them all, so be creative and don’t be afraid to add an “official” or a location like “northwest” or “american” to your name in order to get an available handle. It’s a good idea to make these considerations holistically, so if you’re going to add and “official” onto one handle you might think about adding it to all of them.

Before your brand name starts to make rounds on business cards or a website, it’s important to confirm that it’s truly unique. Not just for the sake of originality, but to avoid stepping on any legal landmines. Here’s how you go about it.

Start with a simple Google search. It’s your first line of defense against potential duplicates.

Next, go deeper and check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. This is where you’ll find officially registered trademarks.

Once your brand name passes these checkpoints, claim it. Registering your brand name as a trademark at the USPTO website gives you the exclusive rights to use it.

Fill out the application on the USPTO website, pay the associated fee, and you’re one step closer to launching your brand.

If you operate under a different legal name than your brand, consider filing a Doing Business As (DBA). This lets you legally operate your business under your brand name, even if it’s not your legal name.

Remember, a strong brand name not only makes a great first impression but also holds its ground in the legal battlefield. So, choose wisely, search thoroughly, and register promptly.

Conclusion

Now, as we transition to the next chapter, we’re going to focus on another crucial aspect of your brand identity – your Slogan. Think of your slogan as a summary of your brand’s mission and promise. It’s like your brand’s battle cry, the rallying call that resonates with your audience and leaves a lasting impression.

So let’s dive into the heart of your brand’s slogan and as Nike has so succinctly put it, “Just Do It”.

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