How to Design a Powerful Brand Name That Resonates

How to Design a Powerful Brand Name That Resonates
Powerful Brand Name

Your business brand speaks to how your company is perceived by consumers. A well-developed brand reflects a company’s values and incites emotions, helping to differentiate the brand from the competition. For example, the Apple brand image might be equated with innovation, while Chanel’s brand values speak to elegant, traditional luxury.

Many elements go into building a brand, from the mission statement and tagline to the visual identity (logo, color scheme, etc.). The right name is a cornerstone of this business identity. The brand name is one of the first things existing and potential customers come in contact with when experiencing your brand, so it’s important to make sure this first impression is memorable, compelling, and resonates with your target market.

Given a brand name’s significance, it should come as no surprise that the perfect name requires more than picking a catchy word or phrase. A strategic, structured development process will allow you to create the right brand name for your business. This article provides the essential information you need to get started. Read on to learn about:

Good brand name traits

A well-informed brand positioning strategy differentiates your business from others in the industry, synthesizes your brand’s fundamental values, and allows you to focus your marketing messages in a targeted manner. It all starts with a great brand name. But just what makes for a great name? Here are some of the essential traits.

Unique

One of the main goals of branding is differentiation, or the art of setting your business apart from the rest. It’s important to select a unique business name that isn’t easily confused with others. Look for a moniker that’s one of a kind but not too out there—which can detract from its memorability and user-friendliness (more on those points below).

Keep it simple. Research has shown that simple brand names perform better in the stock market, possibly reflecting the human preference for easy-to-process information. Dove and Olay are two examples of unique names that are succinct but stand out. Plus, the rounded letters and vowels in these names suggest softness, which is fitting for a personal care brand.

Memorable

A company name also needs to be memorable. Consumers should be able to recall your business. If they stumble across your products or services at a time when they don’t need those goods—but are captivated by a memorable brand name—they may return as customers later when they do need those goods. A memorable name also supports word-of-mouth marketing, making it easy for people to disseminate and share your brand name with others.

BMW is a great example of a memorable brand name. Many people don’t realize that the acronym comes from the auto manufacturer’s German name: Bayerische Motoren Werke. That’s a mouthful! BMW is easier to recall. Twix is another easy-to-remember and fitting name, since the “Twi” calls to mind “twin,” speaking to the fact that the chocolate always comes in packs of two.

User-friendly

While a brand name should be unique, it shouldn’t be too complex. For example, a gimmick like replacing letters with numbers can cause confusion. Further, remember that a brand name needs to serve in multiple contexts. For example, it should be easily incorporated into social media, business cards, logo design, a website domain name, and more.

A descriptive name like Groupon is one good example. The name is unique and memorable without being too complex. By combining the words “Group” and “Coupon,” the name even speaks to the business’s offerings (discounts on group-based activities). Nike is another fantastic example. It’s just four letters! This makes it easy to incorporate into logos, websites, and more. Plus, Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, a great fit for a sports brand.

Future-proof

Ideally, your business will be a thriving success and will last for years or even decades to come. Brands like Coca-Cola, Boeing, and L.L. Bean have been around for over a century. If you want your brand name to go the distance, make it future-proof. Avoid referencing trends of the moment and don’t get overly specific. UPS—short for “United Parcel Service”—shows how an old name can be modernized and future-proofed.

Taking a big-picture approach can also future-proof your brand by allowing you to more easily expand your product or service offerings later. The initialism “VS” for the brand Victoria’s Secret is a great example. While VS is now synonymous with lingerie, the name itself doesn’t mention this. This has allowed the business to expand into other areas, like cosmetics, accessories, and athleisure.

International

If you’re a new business owner, the thought of taking your products or services international might be far off. But don’t rule it out! Be sure to select a brand name that translates well in other countries and languages. Amazon is a great example of a strong brand identity that was built on a name that isn’t United States-specific.

3M is another fantastic example of a brand name that considered its international future. Originally, the company was called the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company. The switch to 3M eliminates the geographic specificity and broadens the company’s reach. It also meets other brand name criteria, as it’s simple, memorable, user-friendly, and future-proof.

Designing your brand name

Now that you know what makes for a great brand name, it’s time to develop your own. Whether you’re building a brand for a new business or rebranding an existing business, there are a few rules of thumb to follow. These simple steps take you through a creative process that will reap far better results than just using an automated name generator.

Step 1: Identify your target audience

Your target audience refers to the primary market for your products or services. Who are you catering to and who do you want to reach with your brand? This includes basic demographic and psychographic information, like age, sex, location, occupation, marital status, hobbies, and more. It can help to create a fictional persona of your target market member, even giving them a name and a face.

There are a few ways to identify your target audience. If your business is already up and running, you can gather data from existing customers to see which traits they share. If not, you can conduct market research, canvassing consumers at large. You can also look at brands in your market and see what their consumer base looks like. Social media and website analytics are one way to do this.

Step 2: Define your brand personality

Once you have your target audience defined, you can go on to define your brand personality. How will your brand reflect the personality of your target consumer? Start by identifying the values shared by your brand and that archetype, such as convenience or affordability. Then, consider how those values can be expressed verbally, visually, or emotionally to help position your brand.

It can help to think of your brand as a person. What would they be like to interact with? Are they fun-loving and zany or purposeful and serious? Would they use laid-back or professional language? What kind of music would they listen to? What social media would they use? Compare two major tech brands like Apple versus Microsoft and you can probably quickly identify which one would be “the fun one.”

Step 3: Make a list of brand name ideas

Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience and defined your brand personality, you can start brainstorming brand name ideas. This is the fun part! Make the most of it. Give yourself plenty of time, get comfortable, and just jot down everything that comes to mind. Save the critiques for later. The idea is to get as many names and ideas on paper as possible.

It can help to make this a group activity, so ask your employees to join in. Accumulating all of your ideas on a whiteboard or shared screen is a great way to combine forces, allowing one person’s thoughts to inspire others’ ideas. You can also use name generator tools, a thesaurus, and foreign language dictionaries to help get inspiration.

Step 4: Narrow your list

With your brainstorming session complete, review the names you have. First, consider whether they meet the criteria of a good brand name described above (unique, memorable, user-friendly, future-proof, and international). Cross off any names that don’t fit the bill. You can then narrow down the list based on a few additional points. For each name, ask yourself:

  • Does it speak to your target audience, reflecting their values and style?
  • Does it adhere to your brand identity (e.g., compared to your mission statement and philosophy)?
  • Does it reflect your products or services? Consider the examples of Dove and Olay above and why they make sense for a beauty brand.
  • Does it provide clarity as to what consumers can expect from your brand?
  • Does it incite any kind of emotional reaction? Does it make an impact, call up a memory, or make you think of anything specific?

Step 5: Check for availability

Once you’ve narrowed down your brand name list even further, put your top contenders to the availability test. Check whether related domain names are free using a domain name search tool. Also, check whether social media accounts with those names are up for grabs. Finally, check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to see if any of the names have been trademarked by another company.

Step 6: Test your shortlist of potential brand names

You should now have a shortlist of viable brand names. The best way to find the best one of the bunch? Put them to the test. Surveys and focus groups are a great way to solicit feedback, ideally from people who aren’t familiar with your business and its offerings. Ask them what their impression of the name is, what it makes them think of, and how it makes them feel. Ideally, their answers will align with your brand identity.

Create your brand with specialists

Developing a brand name takes time and effort; however, it will be well worth it once you find that perfect moniker that’s unique, memorable, user-friendly, future-proof, and international. Above all, your brand name should reflect your small business’s brand story and values and incite emotions, allowing you to connect with your target audience.

If you’re not confident in your brand, there are independent professionals who can help. You can hire brand managers on Upwork to assist with everything from the naming process to your brand strategy, ensuring your brand identity is well communicated (e.g., through your digital marketing strategy, social media, etc.). With a global pool of talent to choose from, you’re sure to find the right freelance expert.

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How to Design a Powerful Brand Name That Resonates
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Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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