How to come up with a remarkable brand name and 8 criteria for successful branding
Are you starting a new company? Planning a new product launch? Or launching a new brand? Congratulations! And what’s its name?
If you thought you could scribble it over your morning coffee or while you wait in line at the local registration office, we advise you to read this blog first.
Your brand name is no joke and presumably it will be with you for many years to come, connecting that verbal part of your identity with your products and services, and even the ideas and values that you represent and support.
But did you know that your brand name can determine whether or not your company will be successful? The Latin proverb, “Nomen est omen” really works when it comes to brand naming.
When we were growing up, we were learning about the world, among other things, through the development of vocabulary. In doing so, we learned that a word implies much more than meaning and sound, and involves a whole network of associations that affect how we think and feel about that particular word. Over the years, we have cultivated positive and negative connotations about certain words, which became so deeply planted in our brain that we are no longer aware of them at all.
What does all of this have to do with branding?
Michael Rader, founder of Brandroot, who deals with internet domains, explained this well in a HuffPost article:
“Brand names are words too, so the first time we hear the name of a brand, we have no preconceptions about it. Branding gives businesses the opportunity to put the meaning behind their name with completely positive connotations, so if someone automatically associates your name with positive emotions, you’ve got a client for life!”
In other words, good branding has the power to make your company or product name a positive association for a very broad audience.
So, now when we know why choosing a brand name is so important, and why it would be better to leave behind that old idea about creating an acronym derived from the personal names of your family members, we can move on.
8 criteria for brand name success
Here are some of the top criteria to consider when choosing a strong brand name. Do not worry if your choice doesn’t meet all the requirements on the list; if you can apply only a few of them, you will be on the path to success.
1. Short name that is easily pronounced
Needless to say, among the names with multiple words, those that are the simplest always win, as well as those that are short and sound good. Why? Because they are easier to remember, there is less possibility for errors while googling it, and they fit the visuals much better, making them easier to re-produce across multiple platforms… Did we mention that they sound better?
2. It’s simple
Isn’t that the same as having a short brand name? No, it’s not: the simplicity of the name depends on its alphabetic structure, where simple names use only a few letters, which are repeated within the word.
For example, Franck might be a short name, but it is not easy because it uses six different letters. Gillette is a bit longer and yet simpler, containing repeated letters “l” and “t”. Nissan and Google are two other examples of a simple brand name.
3. Suggests the product category
It’s great when the brand name already suggests what it is all about. This may turn out to be creative (soy milk = Silk) or perhaps more direct and exact (station for video games = PlayStation).
In most popular cases, the name of a brand in a particular product category becomes predominant to that of competitors – or was the first of its kind in the market – that the brand name becomes a product synonym (like Kleenex).
A good example is Digitron, the popular Croatian brand behind the first European pocket calculator, made in 1971. The word in its name includes the word “digit”, which clearly points to the function and category of the product and, as it was the first in the market, the word “digitron” became a widely used synonym for the calculator throughout the territory of former Yugoslavia.
4. It’s unique
In short – there is nothing like it on the market; these brand names are usually created “from scratch” and are not derived from known words. Xerox and Kodak are popular examples.
5. It’s shocking
Brand names that shock or surprise are, undoubtedly, attention grabbers. Of course, they should strive to respect good taste and boundaries, trying not to go too far. For instance, Virgin, Richard Branson’s popular company, is somewhere on the edge of these boundaries, while French Connection United Kingdom (FCUK) may have gone a bit over the limit.
6. It’s personal
Brands carrying the names of their founders have a human touch and make their customers create easier connections to the brand. That’s because people prefer to connect with other people than with objects and services, or their fabricated brand personalities.
Founders’ names are pretty common: McDonald’s, Disney or Louis Vuitton give a personal note to companies that retain personalized history in their name even when they change their ownership structure.
However, the personal name can be used in brand naming even in fictitious form. For example, the optics from Rijeka that was creating a new brand name after leaving the Italian parent company, wanted to retain the Italian feel in the name of the new company. Therefore, Zambelli Brand Design offered the name Vistini, which sounds like an old Italian family name, and is a derivative of the word ‘vista’, which means “view” in Italian.
7. Tells a story
Today, people are looking for more than just products – they seek an emotional connection to brands and the best tool for creating one is to have a good story behind a company or brand. A brand name with a “soul” and a good story in its background, which is brought up across different marketing touch points, will certainly gain more attention, stand out in the crowd and evoke an emotional connection.
As part of a brand strategy, Zambelli Brand Design named a restaurant J-I-S-T, which in local dialect means “eating”, and which tells the whole story behind this restaurant. This establishment serves fine meals, primarily based on meat selections from the indigenous domestic cattle, Bošarin, and other typical ingredients from Croatian Primorje and Istria counties.
8. Passes a trademark search engine test and has an available web domain
Certainly, every brand name idea needs to be searched through the WIPO search engine for trademark and name matches. This process is necessary to make sure there is no one out there with the same name… and to avoid lawsuits.
Also, the availability of a domain that will include the name of the brand should be checked, given the large number of those that are already taken in different, yet similar, combinations.
Last but not least, here’s an example of how to create a brand name with multiple success criteria applied, created at the Zambelli Brand Design Kissa Beachwear.
Kissa – simple with repeating letters: easy to pronounce and memorize
Kissa Beachwear – suggests a product category: it is obvious what kind of product this brand is all about
Kissa – has a story behind the name, as Kissa is the ancient name for the Croatian Island of Pag, with its long sandy beaches, the fatherland of the swimwear designer and the company owner.
Good luck in choosing your brand name!
Want help? If you decide to let the experts bring your brand to life, Zambelli Brand Design is at your service.