How to Name a Brand and Why (Part 2)

September 27, 2012

How to Name a Brand and Why (Part 2)

This article is the second in a series, preceded by the How to Name a Brand and Why (Part 1) that discussed some essentials and criteria of the right brand name. In this part, we’ll discuss a practical repertoire of naming a brand that has much been recommended by professional brand experts.

Brand naming, as the most challenging part of branding process, very likely requires extra time span and energy, for what would be the fate of a brand must start here. There are some common occasions when the urge to name a brand becomes the very first list to deal with. People usually start to seek a brand name when a new product or new business is going to be introduced for the first time (the indispensable one); or when an existing product/business decides to rename itself in order to free its future from a negative connotation; or when an existing product/business desires to be more expansive, the desire that is so limited by the nature of the existing name.

Whatever moment that leads you to the finding of a name, you should be ready to spend more time and efforts, even more funds— if the brand aims a large market area, a vitality to endure time, and to compete against some major brand names.

Setting Objectives and Rules

Nothing’s got for nothing, but a right and effective choice of names can mean everything. Whether you’re naming a brand by your own or involving a professional branding agency or marketing firm, you should involve your team to initially do these following steps.

  1. Make a list of attributes that need to be reflected in the brand name. Foods for thought:
    • What terms out of the brand identity statement do you most want the name to convey, reflect, or support?
    • What aspects of the brand promise would you like the name to advance?
    • What words define the character you want the name to convey?
  2. Bring together the key persons and ask them to answer the three questions above. Then ask them about the potential names that come to their mind.
  3. Decide who will give decision on the name and how. Would it be one person, or a team? Would the name be decided by a single person’s power, or by a vote?
  4. Make sure to involve all, especially the decision maker, in the process of brand naming.

Listing and Selecting

After creating the framework for the brand naming, you may proceed further to deliver some candidates that must be contextual to the framework or the brand positioning. There are common categories that frequently divide names based on their types, such the owner names (Ford, Walt Disney); abbreviation names (IBM, DHL, AT&T); geographically anchored names (Washington Post, New York Times); descriptive names (Mister Burger, Kentucky Fried Chicken); borrowed interest names (Apple, Nike, Starbucks); or the fabricated-word names (Microsoft, Mozilla).

Set the limit for the number of candidates! Fifty names will do. If we hold a brainstorming session, try to put these as considerations:

  1. Let every idea to linger for awhile, for it may give fresh associations.
  2. Try to capture the intention of represented ideas within reliable succinct terms and go for the alternatives through dictionary or thesaurus.
  3. Examine the ideas by asking the presenters about the underlying meaning of the names they’re presenting and be perceptive on their description.
  4. Encourage alternative perspectives by asking the participants to be somebody else (child, teenager, selebrity, etc.) in describing their impression upon the brand.

Remember to record the results and review them at the end of the session to evaluate and select the candidates that match the brand positioning statement.

Narrowing down the list is a tricky and critical business. It is the phase where you would probably still feel uncertain about the name, even if it is the selected one. To deal with the shortlist, it is better for you to include a few top contenders only, unless you want to undertake a trademark search that would need a longer list, and also to keep those top names tightly within the brand naming circle.

Testing and Trademarking

A lasting effect needs testing and a secure road. To keep the potential results in check with some common ideals of brand name, put every name in the shortlist through questionings:

  1. Does it accurately depict or support your desired brand image?
  2. Is it easy to say and spell?
  3. Is it unique as compared to other brand names that might lend a free association?
  4. Does it translate well in other parts of the world?
  5. Do you really like the name? For it’ll be living with you a long time.
  6. Can you protect it?

After selecting the name and putting through questions to see if people can say it, spell it, remember it, and relate well to it in their own culture, it is the time for the registering and protecting process to ensure that the name will belong to you and only you for as long as it lives in the marketplace. Though it sounds sweet and melodious, the process of attaining a trademark is difficult and tiresome. You must do a lot of searching through databases, including for the domain availability. Frequently, people will make some critical changes during the process. Tough it is, but once you seize it legally, the name will be yours and yours only.

Want to share your thoughts and experiences on brand naming? You’re very welcome!

Further reading:

Chiaravalle, Bill and Schenck, Barbara Findlay: Branding for Dummies. 2007. Wiley Publishing, Inc. New Jersey.

Galang Wijaya's picture