How to choose a brand name for my business

What’s in a name?

Mercedes was named after the daughter of a business partner.

Acclaimed make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury is the face and name of her beauty brand.

Cisco is a derivative of the city of San Francisco, where the company originated from.

Spotify is a made-up, portmanteau word combining ‘spot’ and ‘identity’.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Heinz foods was named after its founder Henry J. Heinz.

The common thread between all these companies is the fact that their brand name or mark is undoubtedly their most valuable and prized asset.

As the identity behind your business, your brand name is a foundational piece for how you create a memorable impression. Whether it’s your logo, a visit to your website, the exchange of a business card, or a 10-foot billboard on a highway, it’s the thing consumers will encounter on first contact and remember you for the most.

There are no hard or fast rules applied to how you choose a name for your business. It’s a fun, creative process you’ll go through that requires thoughtful deliberation across multiple dimensions, while also considering the essence of your brand’s mission, values, and goals.

Here are the tips and pointers I think are important when choosing a brand name:

1. Reflect Your Brand Identity: Your brand name should align with your brand’s values, mission, and personality. Consider your target audience and what you want your brand to convey. Then choose a name that reflects those qualities. Think about how the name will look on your logo, website, and other branding materials. A visually appealing name can enhance your overall brand identity.

2. Make it unique: having a distinctive brand name helps your company stand out from the competitive set. Avoid generic terms or overly common words that might get lost among other brands, or worse yet, confuse yours with a namesake competitor. Also, check if the name translates well in different languages and cultures to avoid having negative connotations in specific regions.

3. Keep it Memorable: Shorter brand names have the obvious advantage of being easier to remember and type, making them more user-friendly. Aim for a name that’s around two to three syllables and easy to recall. A great brand name can evoke emotions, connect with customers on a deeper level, and create a lasting impression.

4. Easy to Spell and Pronounce: A simple and easy-to-pronounce brand name makes it easier for customers to remember and share your brand with others. There’s been a common practice for using alternative spellings or cute word plays. If possible, steer clear to prevent misunderstandings. Share the name with others and see if they can pronounce it correctly or if they struggle with spelling. This can give you an idea of how intuitive the name is.

5. Avoid Trendy Terminology: This goes with point #4. While it’s tempting to jump on the latest trends, keep in mind that trends come and go. Your goal should be longevity, so make sure you choose a brand name that will remain relevant over time. Aim for timeless.

6. Check for Trademark Availability: Before finalizing a brand name, search for trademarks to ensure that the name isn’t already registered by another company. This helps you avoid legal complications down the line, especially if you plan to operate globally or target diverse markets from day one.

7. Think about Domain Availability: Finding a matching online domain name is going to be a test of wills. The likelihood of securing a domain name with a .com extension is going to be slim. Choose a brand name that has a domain extension that still aligns with your brand. Also, a brand name that includes relevant keywords to your offering can bring SEO advantages, making it easier for customers to find you online. You also want to make sure you can rank and bid on search terms if you deploy pay-per-click strategies.

8. And Social Handles: same goes for how you think about social media. Given what a critical go-to-market channel social media is these days, check and secure your brand handle as closely aligned to your brand name as possible.

9. Consider Future Expansion: Consider the potential for your brand, and the possibility to grow and expand into new products or markets. Don’t choose a name that’s too specific to your current offering. Your business might diversify in the future, and a name that’s too narrow could become a hindrance, limiting your opportunities down the road.

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