December 6, 2022

How to choose an effective brand name

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Do you know where the name Starbucks came from? Or Spotify? How about Geico?

The founders of the coffee brand knew that they wanted a name that suggested adventure and discovery. And one line of thought was that they should connect the company to its geographic origins. So, they looked at a map of Washington State and found a small town called “Starbo.” And Starbo prompted an association with the Starbucks character from Moby Dick. The nautical theme stuck. And the business became a household name.

Spotify happened because one of the founders misheard a suggestion during a brainstorming session, a mix of “spot” and “identify.” And it sounds cool, which seems fitting for a pioneering music technology brand.

The ubiquitous and odd Geico name has a very simple story. It’s an acronym for Government Employee Insurance Company.

So, what’s the lesson?

Well, the first is that great brand names can originate in many ways. They can be story-based, or descriptive, or simply “cool.” The second is that, even though the above examples make the process seem simple, it’s critical that you choose your brand name carefully. One could even argue that the aforementioned brands may not have been nearly as successful had their names been less distinctive and memorable.

An effective brand name matters

Your choice of brand name will have a tangible impact on your business and is an important part of an effective brand strategy.

If your name is too long, your logo may take up too much space. If your name is unpronounceable, how will you advertise on the radio and in video? If your name sounds too similar to your competition, how will you differentiate? And if your name is not memorable, it’ll be much harder to build a following.

Even more importantly, does your name translate to a useful domain? How about the effect on SEO? Or even social media? To succeed, it’s essential that your business show up in relevant searches from potential customers.

Where to start

At a minimum, you must define your brand promise and your brand identity. Those two elements will give you important guidance.

What are you in business to do? If you are in medicine, your promise might be “we’ll keep you healthy.” And your personality might be “caring and human.” So, your name should reflect that. If you are in the entertainment business, then your name should be fun. Or super cool. Or both.

Every business needs to make a promise to its audience. And the earlier in the relationship that promise is made, the better.

For a brick-and-mortar retailer, that promise might be made by the name of the store, the signage, and the interior design.

For instance, “Best Buy” has its promise built right into the name. As someone shopping for electronics, why would I need anything better than the best price?

What if you don’t have a huge advertising budget?

If you are a small business, your brand name and your domain have to work extra hard.

Let’s suppose I wanted a name for my construction business. And let’s say that I wanted my audience to view our work as high-quality and enduring. Our promise might be: “What goes up never comes down.” As for personality, I’d want it to be “no-nonsense and straightforward.”

I started with the word “dependable,” but that seemed very generic. Then I thought, “sturdy”. So, I went to GoDaddy and entered “sturdy” into the search tool. I found that some domains were unavailable. And some were uninteresting. But since I was planning a construction business, I tried something more targeted: “Sturdy Construction.” By adding that second word, not only did I discover “sturdyconstruction.com,” but I could see that “sturdy.construction” was also available. Wow — sturdy.construction — that domain is not only simple and descriptive, but it’s also easy to remember. And the personality was straightforward. Plus, it makes a strong promise!

Try out the domain search tool now!

TLDs are a great communication tool

By exploring a descriptive domain name, I found a way to convey the key elements of the brand using an economy of words. I landed on a brand name that was easy to remember and easy to search. And since this is an Identity Digital domain, I also automatically get built-in security for my business and its customers. Once I settled on my brand’s promise and personality, a simple search was able to deliver the perfect solution. If you don’t stop at the “dot” when choosing a name for your business, there are so many more excellent possibilities available.

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