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.
1. Define the leading brand or product attributes
- What are the top 4 to 6 adjectives that define the brand personality or product attributes?
2. Define the brand promise
- What unique benefit will the brand deliver that is meaningful to the target audience?
3. 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?
4. 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?
5. 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
6. 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.
7. 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.
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