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8 Strategies to Come Up with a Killer Brand Name

Branding can make or break a business. Customers pay a lot of attention to a business’s branding, often basing their buying behaviours on how a brand presents itself. For instance, as per a recent study, 46% of customers stated they’d spend more on a brand they trust.

With a lackluster brand name, you’re losing a lot of business.

So, how can you develop a brand name that will send customers flocking to your doorstep? Let’s look at eight strategies you can use to create a killer brand name.

Why Does a Killer Brand Name Matter?

A brand name is a business’s identity. It is the first element that prospects will encounter about your business. Therefore, your brand name should be authentic, distinctive, enduring, memorable, and resonate with your target audience.

These factors make up a killer brand name and influence the profitability of your business. According to one study, 88% of consumers consider authenticity a critical factor in supporting a company or brand.

A mighty brand name keeps your company relevant as it evolves and pivots to new products and services. That’s because a strong brand name gives your business a strong reputation that builds and maintains trust with customers.

Powerful branding also creates a lasting, good first impression with your prospects, encouraging them to visit later and do business with your brand. According to research, consumers take 50 milliseconds to form a first impression about a company after visiting its website.

If well branded and designed, you’ll have potentially won a customer in less than a second of them landing on your website.

What Makes a Great Brand Name?

There are several theories suggesting different constituents of a killer brand name. For instance, a 2010 University of Alberta Study showed that brands with repetitively structured names, such as Coca-Cola, Jelly Belly, and Kit Kat, received more consumer attention.

However, there’s no single magical formula. Most brand gurus agree with a few common traits that make a brand name memorable and easy to use. These are:

  • Meaningful – A great brand name communicates your brand essence, creates a positive emotional connection, and conjures a positive image.
  • Accessible – A great brand name can be easily pronounced, interpreted, spelled, or googled. Even if the name is bizarre or unique, it must still be relatable or understandable.
  • Distinctive – Powerful brand names are memorable and unique, which makes them stand out from the competition.
  • Future-proof – A powerful brand name can grow with the company and maintain its relevance despite new products and services.
  • Protectable – You should be able to legally protect your brand name through trademarks, get a domain for it, and own it lawfully and in the customer’s general consciousness.
  • Visual – You should be able to translate or communicate your brand name through design. This includes icons, colours, logos, and other design elements.

8 Strategies to Come up with a Killer Brand Name

Knowing the traits that make a memorable brand name, what criteria can you use to come up with one that has all these traits? Let’s look at 8 strategies you can use to create a killer brand name.

1. Develop a Brand Strategy

Your brand strategy is the first thing you should figure out before brainstorming possible brand names for your business. Your brand transcends the slogan, logo, or title. It encapsulates the customer’s experience with your company, product, and services.

Your brand strategy defines what your business stands for, the personality it conveys, and the promise it makes to its prospects. Therefore, apart from the creative elements of your brand, including the logo, icon, slogan, and colour palette, your brand strategy helps you define:

  • The image your business conveys
  • The message it delivers in its proposals, website, and campaigns
  • The customer’s opinion of your business against the competition
  • Your employee’s interactions with the customers.

Therefore, by developing a robust brand strategy, you position yourself competitively as a noteworthy player in your market. That is a powerful driver of business and revenue.

A robust brand strategy also creates brand equity. Brand equity represents the amount customers are willing to pay to purchase something from your brand.

Big companies such as Apple brag about massive brand equity that builds strong customer loyalty among their bases, making their prospects spend more cash on their products than the competition’s offering.

2. Identify Your Differentiators

Your brand name should set you apart from the competition. Therefore, it is crucial to identify your differentiators and let your brand name make those unique selling points stand out.

Having these differentiators at the back of your mind also helps you navigate different names and choose one that’s the most representative of your business and its offering.

One method you can use to identify your strongest differentiators is performing a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis lets you objectively determine the differences between your business and the competition, identify your strong areas, and amplify them to make your business stand out.

Ensure that, from the icon, slogan, or messaging, the customer can immediately pick what’s unique with your business and be interested to learn more.

3. Perform Market Research

It’s easy to jump straight into brainstorming after establishing your brand strategy and a few differentiators. However, you should dive into market research before running through a few brand name ideas.

Market research helps you identify potential problems with your brand strategy or proposed brand names, such as already trademarked names and forbidden or unlikable terms.

A background market research also helps you understand your competition better, understand your audience, and get a picture of brand names that might be more successful, contributing to the insights you get from the competitive analysis.

You can start effectively brainstorming brand name ideas with a robust understanding of your market. Thorough market research also helps you identify gaps and opportunities that a compelling brand name can fill and draw customers to your business.

4. Brainstorm Multiple Ideas

This is perhaps one of the most fun parts of a branding initiative. Choosing a brand name should be a team effort, with everyone allowed to chip in ideas of names and slogans that might capture the prospect’s attention.

Brainstorming brand names can be a difficult phase if done incorrectly. The ideas sourced at this stage often go on to be implemented. Therefore, if poorly sourced, the myriad of problems that may arise can hurt the business financially, legally, and reputationally.

To ensure you’re brainstorming through the right ideas, work with a set of guidelines or constraints. For instance, you can:

  • Write down all the adjectives that describe your business, product, or service
  • Describe what your customers should feel when using your product or service
  • Associate descriptive words about your product or service.

You can also brainstorm within the constraints of the different categories of brand names as outlined in Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler. These categories include:

  • Founder – A name based on a real or fictional character. For instance, Hewlett Packard (HP).
  • Descriptive – A name that describes what the company, business, product, or service does. For example, General Motors.
  • Fabricated – A made-up word such as Kodak
  • Acronym – A name that uses initials such as GE (General Electric)
  • Metaphor – A foreign, mythical, or imagery name for people, places, processes, or animals. For instance, Nike and Patagonia.
  • Magic spell – A real word with a made-up spelling or a portmanteau such as Facebook and Flickr.

You can challenge your team to create a name for each category, totalling about 15-20 names.

5. Create a Shortlist of the Best Picks

Once you’ve got a giant list of names from brainstorming, you should start sorting them out to populate a shortlist of the best-sounding names. Already through the brainstorming process, you might have noticed a trend of the words most team members gravitate towards.

Agreeing on the shortlist can be conflicting. To help sift through the ideas better, you can categorise the shortlist into a yes, no, and maybe. Each name should then be slotted into a category.

Once you’ve completed the first round of shortlisting, you can go back to the “maybe” selections and decide whether it’s a yes or no for each.

Your shortlist should ideally have eight to twelve names on it. The names selected should show the potential of being timeless, standing through business extensions, market changes, trends, geographic expansions, and fads.

Those names should also be memorable, catchy, and easy to pronounce.

6. Keep it Short

“Less is more” is one of the most powerful branding principles. Consumers want a memorable name that they can share easily with friends and family interested in what your business offers.

Ideally, a brand name should have two to four syllables or short, memorable names such as Red Bull, Monster, Lush, and Accenture. If your company has a long name, a shorthand acronym can make a world of difference in delivering a “less is more” brand name.

For instance, instead of Bayerische Motoren Werke, we know BMW. Kentucky Fried Chicken is popularly known as KFC.

Customers also tend to create a shorthand for long brand names on behalf of the business. An example is Chevrolet, famously shorthanded as Chevy.

The “less is more” policy can help you sift through your shortlist and start identifying the perfect brand name based on either the shortest name, the suggested brand name with the best acronym, or the brand name with the best shorthand.

7. Start Exploring Trademarks and Other Protection

Coming up with a killer brand name is no easy feat. However, all your hard work can be eroded if you fail to protect the name by filing for a trademark and, strongly advised, securing a domain.

Therefore, it is crucial to get the input of legal advisors from the early stages and agree on a few parameters that will dictate how you come up with the names and what legal lines you cannot cross.

As you sift through your shortlist, you should consult the legal team to ensure your selections are viable for trademark protection and any other form of legal protection. Some industries have limitations on terms and words they can use for their brand. Thus, you should always be in the know to avoid legal disputes.

Big companies often draw from a pool of pre-registered names to decide on a new brand name and avoid the complexity of registering new brand names.

You should also quickly check for the name online, establish what comes up, and check for domain availability. Though not a deal breaker, domain unavailability can prove expensive when the company tries to buy the domain from its owner.

8. Outsource Your Logo to Expert Designers

Graphic design needs professionals. The visuals of your brand can drive leads and generate sales. For instance, one study shows that using a signature colour improves brand recognition by 80%.

Colour, for instance, communicates emotion that the customer can associate with your brand and its messaging. The right logo also carries the brand’s message in symbolic form and creates a powerful identifier for your brand.

For instance, even without the brand name, you can instantly recognise McDonald’s from its big “M” logo, Nike from its “tick” logo, and Apple from its unique “Apple bitten on the top left” logo.

Expert designers are easy to find in the freelance landscape today, giving you no excuse to avoid investing a few dollars in a logo and colour palette that will draw customers to your business.

Hire a Branding Professional

Figuring out branding is a complex task. Yes, you can sit down with a few team members and develop a good brand name, logo, and colours that will represent your brand effectively to your customers. But, if you need something killer, you should outsource your branding to a professional.

You can contact us here to discuss your company’s branding needs and develop a powerful brand strategy centred around content and other creative channels. With a professional handling your branding needs, you can be sure that you’ll match the high stakes needed to deliver a powerful brand that will thwart your competition. 

Over to You…

Do you agree with 8 Strategies to Come Up with a Killer Brand Name? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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