By Bobby Umar
Many business owners get caught up in the delicacy of choosing the right name to represent their company or idea. Some rush into it because they are so anxious to get the business started and then they realize their business name is lacking. Others spend so much time agonizing over a brand name that perfectly encapsulates their company’s essence that it takes their focus on the most important business needs such as networking, running the day to day operation, and making money.
A great business name clearly tells people who you are, what you do, and what you are all about. It evokes a feeling that connects and is memorable. A fantastic name is an excellent start to building your brand, while a horrible name can cripple you at the starting gate. So what are some important things to consider when creating that name or brand for your business?
1. Keep it simple
Your brand name should be short, easy to pronounce, spell and understand. Too often, business owners feel the need to have an overly descriptive title to their company. A name such as “Srivasnanamians’ GTA Business to Business Advertising Services” breaks several rules at the same time. Ideally you want one word and minimal syllables. If you want to add another word, do it only if you absolutely have to. Alternatively, you can try to think if there is another single word that works better. The world’s most powerful brands such Nike, Google, Apple, and Facebook, have a simplicity that is elegant and powerful.
2. Make it relevant and memorable
Your brand name is more relevant if it lets customers know what you do, if it stands for something, or has a call to action. But even more important is to make your name memorable. This can be done in several ways. Try to come up with something catchy or distinctive. If your name can creatively stick in people’s minds or is one of those words that are repeatable, that sizzle can spread. If you’re business has a completely new offering or has limited competitors, you can be a bit more bold with selecting a name. Something entirely unique or weird can also work. You can use a dictionary and thesaurus, but sometimes a made up name can set you apart from your competitors. Just make sure you follow most of the other rules, as it is impossible to follow all of them.
3. Think long-term
You may be starting out locally, but any forward thinking entrepreneur should set a growth goal that goes much further. Names based on location (e.g. Yorkville Cleaners) or geographic area (e.g. Ontario Paper) severely limits you if you start to have major success. Having to re-brand a name or image costs money and time. The other aspect is your product/service offering. Perhaps you may plan to extend your offerings and your brand name limits you (e.g. Just Lamps!). The stronger a brand name becomes, the better it can offer a broader range of products (e.g. Virgin)
4. Use pro-active language
Language is a tricky thing. Certain words generate an emotion or perception that is either good, bad, or neutral. Whatever branding you pick, the language has to be carefully thought out. Choose words that are positive, pro-active, forward-thinking, inspirational, and engaging. Be also cognizant of current cultural trends that are hot and avoid the ones that are blasé (e.g. Synergy).
5. Research & Brainstorm names
There is nothing like solid research to determine what you like and what you don’t like about both names in market and what your competitors choose for names. Don’t try to pick something similar to your competitors or else you will confuse your customers. When you find a name you love, figure out the root of that name, how the company came up with it or what is so appealing about it. When you brainstorm names, do it first without judgement and then try to springboard off ideas you like. It’s better to have a nice exhaustive list to start before you close in on the names are true winners. This also helps you to avoid names that are so similar that end up with a lawsuit (e.g. McDowell’s vs. McDonald’s)
6. Focus on Customers and not yourself
I’m sure your name sound lovely or it sounds pretty cool to you. But do your customers care? Unless your name IS the brand (e.g. Martha Stewart), try to avoid brand names that use your name, or something relevant/funny only to you and a few others. Similarly initials can be quite appealing, but the best initialled brands in the market have been around forever. If you become as big as RIM or IBM, (and I hope you do!) feel free to change your branding then. Lastly, to avoid your bias, be sure to get tons of feedback from family, friends, potential clients and suppliers.
7. Think Visually
When someone hears your brand, what do they envision? Hopefully the same thing you do! A name that creates a visual image in someone’s mind can be a great connector and incentive. At the same time, how does your name look on paper or in a logo? It needs to be clean, clear, and visually appealing. If you want to come up with a logo too, then the image needs to work well with the brand name. (e.g. Nokia: Connecting People) The visuals must conjure up positive and relevant associations.
Whatever brand name you choose, make it sure it boldly delivers what you want for your business. Ideally your brand will engage your customers and everyone else and you’ll have them begging for more.