Strategies for Naming Products & Businesses

When it comes to branding your product or service, the logical place to start is the name. But if you’re not a creative marketing professional, you might find yourself intimidated by the blank page staring back at you.

After all, the name is a big deal, so where do you even begin?

Here’s a simple checklist of what a name needs to do, as well as a few strategies for coming up with creative brand names:

  • Make it memorable: That means simple to say, simple to spell and easy to lock away in your brain.
  • Make it unique: Avoid generic terms. Not only are they hard to own, but they’re more than likely already in use.
  • Make it positive: Choose words that create a positive emotional connection.
  • Make it clear: A brand name should clearly communicate something – what you do, how you do it, what your values are, etc.
  • Make it a URL: Believe it or not, making sure the .com URL is available is now a top consideration when it comes to naming.

Understanding naming best practices is one thing, but how can you start generating actual ideas? Here are a few common approaches used by creative marketers:

  • Describe what it does: We are so used to seeing certain brand names that we forget what they are – descriptions of what the product does. Microsoft Internet Explorer is a good example, as is the slightly more creative Apple Safari.
  • Be evocative or intriguing: Abstract words can become brands, but the product itself must be exceptional. Two good examples are Virgin and Blackberry.
  • Merge words together: Compound terms are popular because they’re built from words we already know, like Photoshop, TurboTax and Pinterest (pin + interest).
  • Make up a word: Lots of modern brands use made-up words because they’re unique (and the URL is usually available). The good ones also give you a sense of what they offer, like the audio company Sonos.
  • Change the spelling of a word: Similar to making up a word, you can also take a real word and just change the spelling, like Lyft, Trix and Fatasktik.
  • Name it for the founder: This is how many things are named, but it takes time to establish an eponymous brand. Ford, Kellog’s and Hilton and are all famous, but they’ve been building recognition for a century. This is harder for new brands, since a founder’s name doesn’t say anything about what the company does.

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About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinás, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.

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This article was originally published in the Community Newspapers.