In an era when speed to market is everything, the value and importance of brand naming can often be overlooked. But why are brand names so important? A September, 2016 Huffington Post article stated “brand names give businesses the opportunity to put a meaning behind their name with completely positive connotations. If somebody automatically associates your brand name with positive emotions, you’ve earned yourself a customer for life.” A customer for life might be a stretch, but the concept that a name can impact the value of a brand is quite sound.
Because of this possibly significant impact, brand naming should be looked at as a critical component of the overall branding strategy. Additionally, naming can be a complex undertaking given the specific situation.
- Sometimes the brand strategy requires a completely new and unique name
- Other situations require a complementary name to describe a sub-brand or line extension
- In other cases, a new brand name might be replacing an existing one that is either no longer on strategy or that has experienced some devaluation for one reason or another
7 Steps to Choosing a Name
So how does one go about choosing or creating a brand name? Over its 18-year history, CMG Partners has led and teamed with clients and agencies on many naming initiatives and has developed the following best practices.
- Define the leading brand or product attributes
- What are the top 4 to 6 adjectives that define the brand personality or product attributes?
- Define the brand promise
- What unique benefit will the brand deliver that is meaningful to the target audience?
- Define the product category in which the brand will compete and identify top competitors
- What industry is the brand competing in?
- Who are the primary and secondary competitors?
- Is it in a category with slower or faster purchase cycles?
- Is it a carefully considered purchase or an impulse buy?
- Begin to brainstorm names and run them through a filter that considers the brand attributes and brand promise
- How well does the new name represent the brand attributes or promise?
- Is anything in conflict?
- Evaluate the name against some important naming considerations:
- How distinctive - Is it unique to the market?
- Short - Is it uncomplicated and memorable?
- Appropriate - Does it make sense for the product or industry category?
- Easy to spell and pronounce - Is it complicated to remember or difficult to search?
- Likable - Can the primary audience relate to it
- Extendable - Does it lend itself to a rich brand identity
- Narrow down the list and begin the service mark and trademark search process
- Methods range from low cost ones using search engines all the way to an investment with a specialized legal firm.
- The most common sense approach is to determine if anybody anywhere near the same product category is using a similar term. If not, the level of legal investment can be minimized.
- If time and budget allows, conduct qualitative and quantitative research among the target market.
- Teams inside a company, even with CMG and Agency guidance can form strong opinions that should be validated by prospective customers not so close to the naming process.
Naming a company, product, or service can certainly be a daunting task - especially because brand names often have long lifespans. But following a rigorous approach, being true to your brand promise, and getting direct customer feedback can fundamentally improve the chance of the name’s longevity and success.