You could have the greatest idea for a business, product, or app ever — but if you don't have a strong name to support it, you might struggle to make it a success.
But with so many brands competing for attention and revenue, it can be daunting to even begin thinking about a name. After all, there's more to a brand name than just how it sounds or how much you like it. Read on to learn seven important steps to take when naming your brand.
1. Reflect on Your Story
Your brand story can be a great inspiration for your name. A brand story is a narrative that expresses what brought your business into existence and what continues to drive it today. For example, Under Armour’s story began with the pursuit of creating a shirt that wicked perspiration off skin while also enhancing performance. It turns out they did just that and named their company perfectly. So sit down and think about where your venture came from, where it’s been, where it’s going, and how you want to showcase that with your brand’s name.
2. Define Your Audience
As with all marketing, it’s critical to identify your ideal customer. Once you know exactly whom you’re targeting — their age, interests, preferences, hobbies, lifestyle, and more — you can determine how best to appeal to them. If your audience tends to consist of Gen Zers, you might want to infuse some wit or boldness into your name. On the flip side, if they tend to be older adults who purchase luxury products, you might want to sound a bit more high-end or professional.
3. Identify Your Differentiators
What makes your company special? What do you do better than your competitors? Why should someone choose your brand over another? These are all important questions to consider when you sit down to name your brand. Let’s say you can deliver your services faster than anyone else — perhaps that’s something you should consider baking into your name. You’ll also want to make an extensive list of your competitors so you can ensure your name stands out.
4. List Words You Want Associated with Your Brand
Everyone’s brain makes associations between words (why else would it be so difficult to choose a name for your baby?). An important step in your naming process is thinking of what words and feelings you want your brand to evoke. If you’re launching a budgeting app, you would likely want people to think of words like reliable, user friendly, and trustworthy. On the other hand, if your app helps outdoor enthusiasts meet up, your name should conjure up ideas of adventure, connection, and excitement. It can also help make a list of words you don’t want to be associated with your brand.
Now that you’ve established a foundation for naming your brand, it’s time to have a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. The rule for this, like all brainstorming, is that there are no bad ideas — nothing is rejected immediately. Just “throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.” Use what you’ve written down about your brand story, audience, differentiators, and word association, and let your creative juices flow. There are several categories of name types you can consider:
- Literal – A founder’s name or a combination of multiple names (Warby Parker, Betty Crocker)
- Descriptive – Something simple that describes what you do (Kentucky Fried Chicken, General Motors)
- Made up – A completely fabricated word (Xerox, TiVo)
- Acronym – Using initials for something meaningful (DKNY, GEICO)
- Metaphor – Think Patagonia or Nike
Don’t hesitate to bring in some coworkers or friends to help, as they might come up with ideas you would never have thought of.
6. Foolproof Your Name
Take your top 3-5 favorite names and see how they would fare in the real world. This means finding out a number of things:
- Is it truly unique — do any other companies have that name?
- Is it unique enough that you can trademark it?
- Does a web domain exist that you can use?
- Are there social media handles that will work?
- Is it easy to read and pronounce?
- Will it work as part of a logo?
You don’t necessarily have to get stuck on the URL and social media handles — you can creatively get around those issues by adding short words around your name (e.g., your restaurant “Taco Paradise” can become “EatTacoParadise.com” or something similar).
7. Test Your Name
You could have chosen what you think to be the perfect name, but what does your target audience think? Even if you love it, it needs to resonate with your customers to really work. Once you have a few viable options, try running an online poll to see what feedback you receive from the people you’re trying to reach.
Once you’ve chosen your brand name, you can move onto writing taglines, creating a logo, and developing your marketing collateral. If you need some guidance along the way, StellaPop is always here to help.