Strategies for Choosing a Memorable Brand Name
As a new business (whether your independent or large corporation), we’re faced with many difficult decisions before we open up shop – the perfect location, how to effectively market yourself, pricing strategies, and more importantly, deciding on a great, memorable and identifiable brand name. Unlike deciding on a location for your business and your marketing/pricing strategies, choosing a name for your business is far more nerve racking because it’s permanent, or at least should be, and should capture the essence a company. Below are techniques to help you and your clients generate a memorable, meaningful and unique brand name.
Some companies like to use long, descriptive names to identify who they are and what they do. Acronyms are often used to make longer names more friendly and easier to remember. In most cases, the customers are the ones who start using the acronym for their own convenience. This method works particularly well if you have a long company name whose first letters of each word form a brand new, pronounceable word.
Ikea - Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (Swedish) – example of how an acronym can form a new word. UPS – United Parcel Service ~ MTV – Music Television
Conjoined (combined or portmanteau)
A conjoined brand name occurs when a brand name contains more than one than word to form something new. Typically, the combined name gives two different meanings or understanding to the new. It’s a good alternative to an acronym, especially if you don’t want to deliberately spell out what you do, and still be clear and inventive.
FedEx – PayPal - Coca-Cola - Microsoft
Descriptive brand names can effectively communicate what a brand does. On the downside, it can result in your customers finding your competitors. They are also are very hard, if not impossible to get trademarked. The danger in choosing descriptive names is that the business sets itself up for confusion with competitors. For example a wine merchant will need to be free to use the word ‘wine merchant’ otherwise it could not engage in its business activity. If the first person to use the word ‘wine merchant’ were able to stop everyone else using the term, then it would give the first comer such a monopoly that they could stop all competition in the marketplace. That is far from what trademarks are designed to achieve.
Pizza Hut – Dwell - Architectural Digest
Invented and Playful
Invented names can be quite fun and interesting to come up with. They can be playful, weird, catchy – there’s less boundaries and limitations… While descriptive brand names make it easy for potential customers to find your competitors, invented make it difficult for them to find you. They demand much more marketing because they are harder to remember and less descriptive.
Choosing a Memorable Brand
Think about it – When Google first came about I remember thinking to myself, “hey, thats a pretty funny name, but what they heck is it?!”. But a good marketing strategy (and loads of money) emerged them from under the woodwork.
Google - Yahoo! - Pepsi
I would have to say that 80% of the clients I have help brand have told me a story or two regarding what they want their business to convey through its name. Typically the stories are surrounded with emotional words or feelings on how they want their customers to feel or how they differentiate themselves from their competitors. Use names that embark feeling or emotion or have an underlying story or message.
Starbucks – taken from an Old Sea Captain - Orange (cellular service) - Apple
Founder or Origin
I’ve been seeing a lot more freelance designers lately creating their brand around their own name. While this method is easily trademarkable (is that even a word?), it can create the same problem as invented names – we all can relate to the struggle of getting our name “out there”. In my opinion, using your own name is much more inviting and friendly – It puts a face to a company.
Adidas - Johnson & Johnson – JPMorgan - Charles Schwab
Do you use any of the above strategies to develop memorable, distinct brand names? Feel free to share your strategies and techniques for generating a unique and memorable brand name.
Written by Brian Hoff, The Design Cubicle