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Your business plans are in place, the product is taking shape nicely, the top management is champing at the bit, especially the sales and marketing folks are eager to start talking about what you have to offer. Except there’s one thing missing – the perfect name for your brand. The name you choose can either emphasize the value you espouse or distance you from it. A good name is critical both from business and branding perspectives. Do you know? Google was launched as BackRub in 1996. “Google it” has become a common verb now, we can’t even imagine the alternative! Clearly, there’s a lot in a name!

Different Types of Brand Names

Coining a name for your brand is not easy. If you want to name your brand after something common in the English language, chances are you’re no longer left with much choice. However, there are other options:

  • Use the founder’s name (Tata)
  • Describe what you do (Bharat Petroleum)
  • Choose a lexical name that includes puns, compound words or phrases (Dunkin’ Donuts)
  • Use an acronym (AMUL)
  • Just make up a word (Xerox)
  • Use an evocative name that doesn’t map literally but metamorphically (Nike)
  • Or take a word out of context and hope it resonates with the world (Apple).

But what goes into this decision when there are no easy options?

Points to Consider:

With millions of brands springing to life every day across the world, the process of coining a name for your brand is becoming more challenging, to say the least. In a web-driven world, reports suggest that there are over 860 million domain names registered worldwide, and some experts believe that over 99.9% of words from the English dictionary are already registered – what names are you left with then? Here are some points to consider.

  1. The brand name should align with the overall brand identity and personality. There’s no denying that coining the perfect name is a daunting task. After all, the name needs to perfectly represent your vision, your brand’s purpose, and culture – and all this has to be done in just one or two words!
  1. The brand name should be easy to understand and relate to for the target customer/ markets. The name you choose should make sense to the largest slice of customers you are looking to address. And, the name you build must be relevant to all the customers you define.
  • Is your brand name easy to recall?
  • How many times do you have to hear it before you remember it?
  • What does the word look like in print? Does it look as good as it sounds?

Do you know? When the founder of Sony Corporation – Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo – decided to use the acronym Totsuko for his company, he realized Americans had a tough time pronouncing the name. That’s when the name Sony was chosen – a mix of the words sonus or sound and sonny or a slang used to describe a young boy, which the founder considered himself to be.

  1. The brand name should be unique, ownable, and a correct fit in its product categories.
  • Does it fit across product categories while telling its own unique story to consumers?
  • Is it unique and ownable in its categories? Does it generate a fair amount of curiosity?
  1. The brand name should be good to sound/ good to say. Remember – you have only one chance to make a really good first impression. Stick to shorter words with fewer syllables and a catchy flow. These are more likely to gain traction with your target audience.
  • Does your name sound good over the phone and in person?
  • When you say the name aloud, do you think it will echo for years to come?
  • Is there a chance the name will be mispronounced or misspelled?
  1. While choosing a name that’s unique, easy to pronounce, good to hear etc. is important, what’s just as important is for your brand name to comply with the various applicable IPR laws and legal mandates.
  • Research the applicable laws and mandates for your type of company and the geography you operate in. You don’t want to sound like another brand or to convey something objectionable in a part of the world that may be crucial for your business.
  • Ensure compliance to protect your reputation, image and brand identity.

Final Thoughts

When Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet,” he was probably unaware of the branding impact a poor name would have. Today a strong, memorable brand name that rings with the inner “purpose” of the brand has become the essential first step in establishing the identity of the brand. The pitfalls of picking an inapt name are many. If confusion is the first reaction your name evokes then you’re in a bad place. The right name sets the stage for the customer’s resonance with the values of the brand and all that it represents. The right name conveys to the right customers, who you are, what you do, and where you fit (or don’t fit) in their life. Naming your brand is that key element of your strategy that can define the future trajectory of your business. And no amount of name-calling will change that!


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