Entrepreneurship

The psychology and science of creating a brand name

“Just how important is a name? My simple answer to this is, nothing will be used for a longer period of time or more often than a company’s name,” “It’s not just a creative exercise. It’s a strategic one.”

Because brand identity is the core of any marketer’s plans, companies are willing to shell out to make sure they get it right.

Being the creative marketers that we are, we love the idea of naming our brand. It feels like art to us. It’s one of the “fun” aspects of owning a brand or a company — coming up with the name, logo, tag-line, etc. Well I’m here to tell you that although you should definitely indulge in the fun creative process, you should also remember that naming your brand, creating your logo, and coming up with the tagline, is just as much an art as it is a SCIENCE.

One of the major mistakes most entrepreneurs and new brand owners make, is getting too excited with and diving into, the creative aspect of brand development. Before doing anything in terms of naming your brand, you need to first make sure you have completely developed your brand’s short and long term strategy. Why? Because the name of your brand has a strategic role to play — it needs to successfully communicate the positioning and personality of the brand. If you haven’t developed the strategy behind your brand, if you haven’t completely understood your consumer, how can you create a name that will resonate with your audience for years to come? Your brand name needs to create an emotional bond with your customer. Thus, when considering a name, it is vital for us to understand our consumer’s thought patterns, to determine how we can create a name that is relevant, a name that has stretch, adaptability, and flexibility as your business and the market grows.

Establishing the strategic focus of your brand, before anything, is crucial in the brand-naming process. At the end of the day, brand name generation has to do with long-term strategy. This is because short-term strategy revolves around ‘survival’ — being unique, being first in a category, and ensuring that your brand possesses a specific WORD or CONCEPT in the consumer’s mind. In long-term brand strategy however, all of those things vanish and what really matters is what your customers call your brand and what they call your competitor’s brand. Therefore, your decision on what you name your product, is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in the course of developing your brand.

In the long term, the recognition of your brand comes PRIMARILY from its name.

Quite often founders and new brand owners have the urge to come up with descriptive names for their company. This isn’t always the best method. In today’s increasingly competitive environment, your brand needs to go beyond focusing on the physical attributes of the product or service itself. What’s the difference between The Container Store and IKEA? Although they both sell storage boxes and baskets, who is more well-known amongst consumers? It’s easy to think that if your brand name describes what you do, then it will be easier for consumers to understand and choose your brand and therefore, you won’t need to invest too much in marketing. But descriptive names are limiting and don’t allow for you to have a strong competitive advantage! What if Twitter was called ‘Status’ or if Ebay was called ‘Echo Bay Technology Group’? These are names that were almost chosen by both companies.

Essentially what we must realize is: Descriptive names are easier to REMEMBER, but creative names are harder to FORGET.

Research and test out your brand name with your audience before concretely establishing it. Figure out if it communicates desired attributes or specific benefits of your product or service. Ask people around you what they think. Your brand name represents your promise to your consumers. It differentiates the value your brand offers from competitor brands. Think of it as a recall and recognition device — over time and through continuous use, your brand name will become a valuable asset and intellectual property. Most importantly, be certain that your brand name is flexible enough to survive for decades to come.

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