One of the first ways your audience will connect with you is through your brand name. And because of this, your brand name needs to be memorable, tell people what your business is about, and impactful – that is – creating positive emotions in your audience.
So, choosing your brand name is usually a long and thoughtful process. And it’s not always a great idea to pick the first thing that comes to mind or to use a brand name based on a whim. Although there are exceptions to this.
For example, according to Steve Wozniak, the name ‘Apple’ stuck more or less because they couldn’t think of anything else that was a better fit. And in the end, because Apple was producing innovative, game-changing products, the brand name has been associated with excellence and disruptive innovation since then.
For smaller businesses, it’s a good idea to choose brand names with some research and time. Here are some important things to consider – that if you follow will give you the best chance of starting your business off on the right foot.
Start with your ‘Why’
The starting point of any business activity ought to work around defining your ‘Why’, i.e. the purpose of your business.
On your own or with your team, start thinking about what you want your company to be about. And what you want people to feel about your business.
When you think about your purpose, you have a clear reason guiding the rest of your brand strategies. And this will make it easier to make decisions when you have multiple choices. And it’ll infuse passion in what you do.
From the book Find Your Why, a good way to start is by thinking of critical stories that have made an impact in your life and business. Collect these stories and compare them, look for running themes. This will help you define the purpose of your brand and then making finding your name easier.
For example, if your purpose is to connect with your audience at a personal level, then you could opt for a brand name that’s after your own name. If you’re more interested in reaching a larger audience and having your brand last long after you do, then you’d be better off naming your brand in a more generic style.
Gather relevant information
Another critical beginning step is to do your research and get information that will help you narrow down your brand name choices.
Here are a few things to think about before you’ve decided on a brand name:
- What’s your industry or niche? Make a list of the factors that describe what your industry is about
- Learn about your customers. Look at social media to find out what people are talking about and what their pain points are. Identify the demographics of your target audience; are they young Gen Zers or the older Millennial group? Knowing these details can shape what your brand should sound like
- Another reason you need to understand your audience is that you want to make sure that your brand name makes sense to them. If you have a global audience, then you want to check that your brand name doesn’t translate poorly in other languages or has cultural meanings different from what’s normal in your own country
- Check out your competitors. You don’t want your brand name to be the same as theirs or even similar to them since it can cause confusion
- Do other research like what the legal and marketing limitations are there. For example, products like tobacco and the like have strict naming and branding guidelines
The benefit of doing this step is that it helps you quickly eliminate brand names that just don’t work.
You’ll save time and avoid feeling emotionally invested in a name you can’t ultimately use.
With the previous sections, we’ve built some guidelines that help choose a good brand name that makes sense and contributes towards achieving your business goals.
But when it comes to the actual brainstorming of your brand name, you need to temporarily throw out your research.
This is because the act of brainstorming is one where you allow virtually any thought to get expressed aloud. It’s not filtering the ideas that you come up with that leads to real mental breakthroughs.
Take some time and do a brainstorming activity with your partner or team. If you’re working alone, then ask a friend to help you.
Use a whiteboard or a flipchart to write down brand name ideas that come to your mind. Some of the previously established guidelines can actually help you explore more name ideas.
You can also use doodles and drawings to help you come up with ideas. Just give free rein to any kind of thoughts and ideas that emerge.
Once you have a long list of brand name ideas, you can go back to the previous sections and narrow down names based on the purpose of your business and the other factors you’ve looked at – your industry restrictions, audience interests, and more.
Check if the domain is available
Before you set your mind on a name, it’s important to do a few basic checks: make sure that your business name isn’t already taken by your competitors. And check that you can buy the domain name for your brand.
To do this and to get help with naming your business, use a tool like Nameboy. A name generation tool will come up with a large number of available names based on your keywords. And you’ll automatically know if the domain name is available too.
Using a helpful tool like this can save you time and effort and streamline your business creation activities.
As a final test, you can create mockups where your brand name is placed on images of different items.
A brand identity mockup tool will show you what your name and logo look like on letterheads, business cards, and even on the side of a building.
When you can see your brand name in real use cases, this will give you a better sense of whether your choice is the right one. And it’s also an exciting task that makes your business more real to you.
Your brand name needs to be relevant and interesting over a long period of time. It’s something that your customers, partners, and other stakeholders will use to interact with your brand.
So, choosing a good name for your brand is a critical activity and not to be taken lightly.
In this post, I’ve shared some key ways you can choose a good brand name for your business. Use these points as a guideline to help you on your business growth journey.