Things to bear in mind when you’re naming a brand

Naming workshop

You’re launching – or relaunching – an organisation. Or maybe you’re bringing a new product or service to market. One of the most exciting, and of course, nerve-wracking, aspects of this is finding the right name for it.

So here are some of the things you need to consider:

1. Your brand – and the position it takes in its marketplace

The character or personality of your brand should make it clear which types of names could be right for you. If you’re struggling to choose a name – or even a type of name – it could be that your brand proposition isn’t clear enough to begin with. For example, if a new leisure apparel brand finds itself toying with names including:

Blue Bananas

Lisza

XTRC

Dahlia

Fitzroy Bailey

…then it probably needs to do more work to articulate its brand. If it’s a fun, accessible brand, Blue Bananas or Dahlia could work. If it’s more about performance, XTRC could be the way to go. If it’s eco-friendly yoga gear, Lisza or Dahlia could be considered. If it’s posh, outdoor sailing gear, Blue Bananas probably won’t work… but Fitzroy Bailey could.

The point is, before you even start to delve into possible names, you need to know what your brand stands for and what it will mean to its ideal customers. If you know from the outset that your leisurewear brand is about heritage, quality and timeless style, then you can be more precise when you start to look for possible names.

2. The type of name that will best support your brand

Would an acronym work for you? Or a descriptive name? Or would something completely made-up make more sense?

There are many, many types of name to choose from – and if you have a well-established brand, it should be easy to choose which will be right for you. Here are a few examples of types of names. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it begins to give you a feel of the choices available:

Type of name Examples of them
Descriptive (does what it says on the tin)Pizza Hut, Toys R Us, Netflix
AcronymsBBC, HSBC, IKEA, UPS
Provenance (the name refers to where the brand comes from)Glenmorangie, Brompton, Brecon Carreg, Evian
Evocative (the name evokes an emotion that you would like your audiences to feel)Innocent, Bold, Lush
InventedKodak, Aviva, Xerox, Xanax

The type of name you choose will depend on your brand positioning and the type of relationship you want to have with your audiences.

3. Give yourself options

As hard as it can be, don’t set your heart on just one name option. We usually advise our clients to choose at least six possible names. More is better.

Why? Because in the excitement of creative workshops it’s easy to see the name you can absolutely see working. But there are a lot of checks to go through before you can finally take a name to market.

So start with at least a handful of options, and know that any of them could work well for you.

4. Timing

Naming products, services and brands is often left until the very last minute. This is usually a mistake – for a couple of reasons. For one, in the absence of an official name, you’ll be calling the product something internally anyway. There will be a working title.

The problem with this is that your teams will continue to call the project by its working title, long after the official name has launched. We’ve seen this cause confusion in organisations – particularly as new people join an organisation. We’ve even seen instances of an “internal” name being used externally and confusing customers.

Then comes the more important consideration. If you leave naming until the last minute, you may not be giving yourself time to carry out the extensive checking process that’s needed to take a new commercial name to market.

5. Carry out your checks

When you launch a new product or service, you want to be triple sure that the name isn’t already in use and that it doesn’t have any associations you’d prefer it not to have. Here are some of the checks you’ll need to carry out:

Availability

Is there already another brand/product with the name you want to use? Specifically in the geographical areas you want to market it in? A search on Google will give you an initial idea of this – but it’s best to hire a specialist agency to search for use of your name across the world. You’ll probably need an intellectual property lawyer later anyway – so get them to recommend an agency to you.

Social media

Are the names you’re considering available on social media? Or at least variants of them? As soon as you have a shortlist of possible names, register domain names, handles and account names on social media.

Associations

Use translation agencies or regional contacts to find out if there are any associations with a name you want to use in the countries and cultures you want to market it in. An association could be something like your word sounding perfectly innocent when you say it – but having an offensive meaning in another language. It could also be that a word or phrase you want to use has been used by a political party or particular group.

6. Protect your intellectual property

You’ve gone to all the effort of creating and checking your possible names. So you need to take the next step of registering them so that no-one else can use them. You can get a lawyer to do this for you… or if you’re a very small organisation, you can apply to register your brand name yourself at the UK Intellectual Property Office, and in equivalent organisations worldwide.

If you’ve got a new product, service, proposition or brand to name, please give us a call.

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