Many people assume that brand naming is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Just write a bunch of names on a whiteboard and pick the one that sounds the catchiest right?
In actuality, creating a brand name is a nuanced process that requires a lot of foresight, planning, and creativity. Drafting a name gets even more complicated due to the prevalence of several common myths surrounding both which kind of names work and the development process itself.
Myth: Brand naming isn’t that important
This particular myth couldn’t be farther from the truth. Naming is of vital importance to the public’s perception of your brand, as a name has the potential to both turn customers into diehard brand loyalists or scare them off forever.
While that may sound like a lot of pressure, you need to keep in mind that your name sets the foundation for the tone and perception of the rest of your brand. It encapsulates your brand’s core values and personality, giving customers an idea of your brand’s worth and identity. The name is the first part of your brand that your audience will be exposed to, so make your first impression count by utilizing a name that captivates and appeals to your customers. Even if your product or service is amazing, a poor name can drastically limit the success and scope of your brand.
Take Pepsi for example. As one of the most iconic brands in the world, Pepsi has successfully marketed itself as a cooler, youth-focused alternative to rival Coca-Cola. Though this direction has worked wonderfully through the years, Pepsi would have never been able to reach this audience if it had stuck with its original name: Brad’s Drink. Yes, Brad’s Drink. At Squadhelp we write names for a living, and even we’re having a hard time coming up with a name more decrepit and generic than Brad’s Drink. It’s very difficult to imagine Brad’s Drink being “the choice of a new generation,” as the name doesn’t at all appeal to any youthful or trendy sensibilities. Carefully consider the long term ramifications that your name will have on your branding strategy, as its impact on the public’s view of your brand can’t be overstated.
Myth: Settling on a name is the first part of the branding process
After learning the incredible impact a name can have on the perception of your brand, it may seem tempting to start coming up with business name ideas before starting any other part of the branding process. Doing this not only causes issues with the naming process, but also with the development of the rest of the brand.
Don’t settle on a name first and work backwards to decide the direction of your brand, as you’ll waste time with an unfocused creative process. Instead, first come up with a list of all of the values and traits that you want your branding to say about your business. This will give your brand development a tangible direction to brainstorm in, helping you narrow your focus and decide on a name that suits your business perfectly.
It’s like when someone asks you to tell a joke. Without any initial direction, your mind will race over so many possible ideas that it’ll be impossible to tell the best joke you can in any reasonable amount of time. But if somebody told you to tell a joke about insufferable Silicon Valley tech bros, you’d have a much easier time coming up with something because you have a creative direction for your ideas.
Myth: Short names are always best
You’ve probably heard over and over that shorter brand names fare better than longer ones. While it’s true that short brand names generally do well, the most important aspect of your name is what thoughts, values, and emotions you want your brand to evoke in your audience. For example, if you want your brand’s name to sound pragmatic (like Dollar Shave Club), it’s better to have a longer, more descriptive name than a shorter abstract name (like Hulu). Focus primarily on creating constructive names for your brand, no matter the length, rather than short ones.
Names that work swimmingly for some brands may fit horribly with others. Concentrate on creating a name that aligns with the values and presentation you decided would work best with your brand. If you have a name that compliments your brand vision well, don’t discard it just because it isn’t short.
Myth: You have to abandon a name if you find out it’s already being used
This myth is the most common misconception people have about brand naming. Many people think that a name is completely off-limits if another brand uses it. This is not actually true, as there are cases where names can be used even if they’re used by other brands. Legal problems come from situations where consumers can reasonably get confused by similar names for similar products. As such, if the taken name you’re seeking is used in a completely different industry than your business, there’s a chance you may be able to use the name. For example, even though Delta Airlines is an established brand, Delta Faucets is able to use the “Delta” name in their branding because customers won’t get confused between an airline and a faucet company. Make sure to seek legal advice to guarantee that your use of the name doesn’t violate any trademark laws.
Entrepreneurs also worry when the name they’ve chosen has already been taken as an exact domain. To build off the previous example, if someone hypothetically started a company called “Delta Bakery,” they wouldn’t be able to use the domain delta.com because it’s being used by the namesake airline. This type of situation causes many people to worry and pivot away from the name entirely. If you have a name that you think perfectly encapsulates your business, don’t shy away from it just because you can’t get the exact domain. Nowadays, people find businesses online from so many other methods than just typing in the company name and adding “.com”. Some people simply Google the name and click the first result, others find the brand’s social media channels and click the link in their bio. The point is, don’t let an exact domain be the dealbreaker between your brand and a great name. Instead, just think of it as a bonus if you can get it.
Naming Myths Busted
It’s ok if you believed any of these myths prior to reading this article. The important thing is that you keep yourself educated and treat the brand naming process with the time and care it deserves. Staying informed will help you find that perfect name while avoiding the common branding pitfalls of other businesses.