Why is it important to choose a good brand name?
A brand name is a snapshot of who and what your business is. It needs to be unique, in line with brand strategy, and memorable. Your ultimate aims for your brand name come with three R’s – recall, repeat, recommend.
It’s a communication tool that’s used throughout your whole business – from your website and phone lines to your marketing materials and products. When people think of a type of product, you want them to think of you – your brand. The way that is communicated is via a really good brand name.
Brand names are so important that even existing companies decide to change them. Pepsi used to be Brad’s Drink (catchy!), while Dunkin’ used to be Open Kettle and more recently Dunkin’ Donuts. Products can also go through name changes. Kids of the 80s would go to the local newsagent’s and buy a Marathon or Opal Fruits – unknown names to the youth of today who snack on Snickers and Starburst! These companies saw it vital enough that they went to the trouble and cost of renaming.
In this article
Choosing the right business brand name isn’t easy. It’s rarely an inspiring, lightbulb moment. It takes time, strategy, research, and testing. In this article, we will be looking at the common mistakes, exploring the different types of brand names, and explaining the essential steps to choose a brand name that makes your business stand out.
Brand naming – common mistakes
- Choosing a long or overly descriptive name – Long isn’t good for all manner of reasons. Try to get your name as short and snappy as possible. One to three syllables works well. Think: Coke, Lego, Apple, Microsoft.
- Trying to say it all in the name – A name shouldn’t be the About Us page of your website. It needs to be something distinctive and suitable for your marketplace, which entices people to take the next step and find out more about what you have to offer.
- Not trying it out in the real world – A new business brand name MUST be tested. Internally first and then externally. Start by saying it. How does is feel? Is it easy to say? Imagine answering the phone and saying it, seeing it on an advertising banner. Do some market research to find out what potential customers think. If you skip this stage and make the wrong choice, it could be disastrous to your company.
- Not using an expert – We often see the same classic dartboard approach. A group of board members each write out a list of ideas and then vote on their preference, getting gradually more frustrated when they can’t find consensus. This approach usually means compromise, and that doesn’t lead to the best outcome. Get an expert to help you rationalise your choice because the results last for a long time – as your brand name has to. It needs to pass the test of time, surviving changes to the market and your industry. Experts have the insight to ensure that you find a future-oriented brand name.
Read more: Business branding and how to get it right
When we work on business brand names for clients, we don’t simply start with a blank sheet. We work smart, do our research, and work through a process that we developed ourselves. Part of that involves coming up with options that fall into the various categories below. We come up with as many options as possible for each of the categories – without discounting any at this stage. This brainstorming approach helps us to avoid the obvious and keeps ideas flowing when they can easily dry up. Give it a try.
We go into detail about the 10 different types of brand names here.
10 steps to choose the right brand name
Finding the right brand name isn’t a quick task. But given the importance it has to the success of your business, it’s worth dedicating the time to it. It’s an exhaustive process, but it doesn’t have to be an exhausting one. By implementing the correct steps and strategies, it can be an enjoyable and enlightening project.
- Do your research – Look at the history, culture, values, and operations. Make tonnes of notes and get well-versed.
- Draw up a list of keywords – Look for keywords or common words that show up again and again in your research. Make a list and filter down to a shortlist.
- Create a broad list of options – With your keywords in mind, use our Brand Names Diagram above to create a table of each name type (you can download our template below), listing as many names under each heading as you can. Don’t hold back, just keep going to get as many as possible. Ideas breed ideas, so if one sounds silly, just write it down and move on. When you’ve run out of steam, pick another heading and start again. To expand your list, you can also consider using foreign language words or latin. Before you know it, you’ll have lots of options. Some will be silly or inappropriate, but don’t worry – we only need one in the end. Get even more on your list by asking your board members and senior team to contribute. You can even get the whole company involved and it can make a nice incentive if you offer a prize for the winner (just remember that you want their input only at this stage, not their opinion on the final choice, as that can be complicated and risky).
- Shortlist – Armed with lots of possible options, start shortlisting, removing ideas that don’t cut it to leave around 20 possibles. Use your list of keywords to make sense of your options or create new variants that have a more direct feel to them.
- Check for domain names – Without a domain name, you won’t get very far. Before moving forward, check that a suitable domain name is available (don’t forget to check social media, too). We use 123-reg for quick domain checks but there are many providers out there. You can get additional inspiration at Lean Domain Search, where they give you additional ideas around a name search and even check for your social media handles too.
- Check for existing trademarks – You don’t want to launch a brand only to realise a few months later that you’ve got a legal challenge on your hands. Check for existing trademarks on your name options to make sure you’re in the clear. The gov.uk site is a good place to start if you’re operating in the UK.
- Check name for existing registered companies – A registered company name can be different to the trading name but checking is always recommended. Head to Companies House in the UK to run a search.
- Consider the legals – Before committing, we always recommend that your final option is checked and protected by a legal specialist. It will add cost to the process, but that can really save you money in the future.
- Make a final shortlist – After all of the checks above, you should be down to a few final options. Now we’re close. Get some wider opinions from trusted partners, suppliers, staff, and clients to rank the list.
- The big decision – You’ve methodically built a list of options, checked it, and shortlisted. Now’s the hardest bit – it’s time to make a decision. Go for it!
Need help with your brand name?
Our expert branding team can help you choose a business brand name that’s right. Contact us by calling 0115 9061320 or simply drop us a message.
A specialist brand agency
An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.