Whether it’s your entire company or a new product, you don’t have a brand until you have a name. It’s a huge part of your first impression. A strong name can pique interest and cement your brand in the hearts and minds of consumers. Great names become so commonplace that we refer to everyday objects as brands– think asking for a Kleenex, looking for a Band-Aid, or Googling it. A bad name can push you to the back of the crowd, or worse, make you stand out for the wrong reasons. What makes a good name? And why should you put the energy into finding the right one?
Why Names Matter
Names and feelings are closely linked. The feelings associated with your name are part of the gut emotional response that defines your brand for your consumers, employees, and competitors. At Flux, we talk a lot about how branding is a process of emotional association. Great brands do more than offer us a product or service– they make us feel a certain way. Your name is an integral part of building the emotional atmosphere that draws people in and keeps them coming back for more.
That’s why functional names, though they may seem like an easy solution, are rarely a good idea. Functional names (think “Sneaker Solutions” for a shoe company) have no sticking power in a crowded market. The real goal in naming is to determine what story you wish to tell about your product (it’s faster, it’s more powerful, it’s easier to use) and then find a word that evokes it, without being predictable.
Straightforward labels don’t work their way into our subconscious, touching off the emotional resonances that provoke the desire to buy. Naming is a lyrical process, akin to writing an incredibly condensed poem. You want your name to bring up images, sounds, thoughts, and emotions that express your brand position– all with just one word.
Because naming is poetic and emotional, it can be hard to pin down to an exact science. Still, there are some important basics that you should know before embarking on any naming project.
Keep it short
> Your name should be easy to remember. Short names have better sticking power.
> Your name should be easy to pronounce upon seeing it written, and should be easy to spell if heard. This is commonly known as the “Bar Test” – if someone overheard your name in a loud, crowded bar, could they easily understand it and spell it later?
> Letter sounds hold power. Combinations of vowels and consonants leave us with particular ideas, whether that’s ease, difficulty, sharpness, softness, or a whole other host of sensory impressions. “Swiffer” feels fast and easy, so much happier than the traditional mop. It plays on “sweep” and “swift.” It’s totally invented, and yet you know exactly what it means. Carefully combining sounds is key to creating a name with meaning.
> How do the letters look together? Are there elongated lines of b’s and p’s mirroring each other, are there repeating letters that could create a signature motif? Your name should lend itself easily to logos and other branded marks. A river in South America has nothing to do with eCommerce, but the linked “a” and “z” of the Amazon logo visually represents the everything store.
Trademarks and Encumbrances
> Trademarks are a deep well best handled by a specialized trademark attorney. But even before you look into licensed trademarks, it’s important to have a sense of general encumbrances. Is your name too close to a competitor, does it sound like another company in a different space, or is it too trendy and likely to sound dated in a short period of time? You want your name to be distinct and avoid any confusion when customers search for you.
Domains and Social
> Make sure you can get a solid domain for your name. If you can’t get an easy to spell and remember domain with your name in it, it’s out. Because your web presence is where the vast majority of your audience will discover and interact with your brand, a strong URL with your name is a key factor in building brand identity. It’s also important to ensure social handles across platforms are available as well.
> Importantly, does your name reflect your company’s reason for being? A name needs to feel true to who you are, rooted in your brand story. Your name is the tip of the iceberg, with strategy supporting it below the water.
Our Naming Process
Everything we do begins with getting to know who you are, what you do, and why. Our approach to naming starts with a deep dive workshop into what makes your company special. In the Ignite workshop, we get to the core of your philosophy, values, competitors, associations, audiences and more. We then distill that intelligence into a strategic position, core messages, visual identity, and a name that expresses it all at once. Check out some brands we’ve named:
The Sun Rose (music venue at the Pendry Hotel, Hollywood)
Respara (luxury apartment building in Los Angeles)
Poppy (vacation rentals company in Palm Springs)
Vana (cannabis product company)
The Mail Order District (26-acre development in Downtown LA)
Naming is a critical part of the branding process. From sound associations and pronunciation to trademarks and domains, finding a name that checks all the boxes while still being authentic to your offering is far from easy. In today’s crowded market, your name matters. If you’re ready to find yours, let’s talk >