Every element of your brand works together to create a single, comprehensive identity. But if we had to pick the single most important element, we’d probably choose the company name.
Your company’s name is used to identify your brand visually, through your logo; verbally, through written and spoken content; and mentally, when a client recalls the name of the awesome company they want to work with. Yes, the icon in your logo can become a visual representation, the tone of voice in your copy can become a verbal representation, and everything from the colors you choose to the actions you take can become mental representations – but only your name will encompass all three. And that’s why it’s so important to choose the right name.
Name Generators and Other Bad Ideas
Before we go into the facets of a good brand name, let’s take a moment to discuss a few common naming pitfalls. Coming up with an awesome name is difficult, and you usually won’t get it on the first try. But even if you’re feeling stumped, you should try to avoid these methods at all costs.
Name generators may seem like a good idea, but they’re an easy way to damage your brand right from the get-go. The problem is that the generated names sound great, but have nothing to do with your brand or your identity. It’s far too easy to get hung up on a catchy but generic name when you could be brainstorming an idea that will actually set your company apart. If you must use one, use it only as a starting point – don’t let the generated name define your brand.
Another tempting but dangerous way to come up with a company name is crowdsourcing. Yes, you can ask a few hundred people to give you ideas, and a few of those ideas might work; but at their core, the ideas won’t have meaning to you and your brand. It’s far better to go with a name that’s personal and descriptive than to let the public pick your name for you.
As the smaller-scale version of crowdsourcing, naming by committee may seem like a safe bet (but it’s not). It’s impossible to please everyone, and if you try, you’ll end up with a name that’s bland and ultimately unsatisfactory for everyone involved. But, your employees know your brand as well as you do, so shouldn’t they have some input? No. They know your brand from inside, and your name should communicate to your audience (from the outside). Keep the naming team limited to key stake holders, ensure that they are focused on the name goals and audience reach, and that one key individual has the final say. Your brand will thank you for it.
What’s in a Good Name?
With the pitfalls successfully avoided, it’s time to answer the big question: how do you come up with a good company name? Ideally, any brand name should be:
Clients need to be able to hear your name and get at least some idea of what you do. That could mean choosing a word that matches your brand’s tone of voice; adding a descriptor like “industries” or “team;” or even choosing a word associated with your line of work.
Relevant to Your Brand.
If you’re a company that makes and sells inflateable bouncy castles, don’t choose a name that’s boring and corporate. If you’re a law firm, avoid a name that makes you sound like the aforementioned business. The feelings, emotions, and associations your name brings up in a potential client will go a long way towards defining your future interactions, so make sure to choose accordingly.
When a client hears your name out loud, they should be able to spell it; and when they read it, they should be able to pronounce it over the phone. Word-smashes are one of the biggest offenders here; it might sound clever to combine two concepts, but unless said combination is incredibly clear, you should consider heading in a different direction.
It’s always a good idea to choose as individual of a name as possible. This will help you stand out from your competitors – but it will also help avoid any sticky trademark issues later on.
Remember, you want a name that you’re comfortable identifying with your brand. When you’re brainstorming, take as much time as you need – after all, you can’t rush great ideas. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to choose the name that you like. If your gut tells you to go for it, and it hits your target goals and audience needs, you hit the naming jack pot.