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How to come up with a brand name

We’re BIG fans of branding and the brand name could almost be argued as the most talked about and recognised part of a brand. Just like a logo, it’s not the only part of a brand, but it’s certainly the part that gets the most attention for many when they come to create their own brand.

If you’ve ever tried to come up with a brand name, then you’ll know how hard that is. You’ll also know how tough it can be asking people what they think of it and don’t even get us started on judge and trial by Facebook!

A brand name is an essential part of your brand but, just like the rest of the brand, it’s not about you – it’s about your audience.

Your brand has so much more to do that just nod to something you like or an old car you once had. No… that’s not where you start.

So… where do you start with a brand name? Well, these 13 points that we use are a pretty good place to begin. Let’s get into it…



1. Create the brief

Your brief will set the tone for your brand and help you create a solid brand name. A brief is like an ingredients list of everything you need to create the perfect name.

These could include (but are not limited to):

  • Company and product history
  • Information on your target audience
  • Consumer insights
  • Desired brand positioning
  • Competitors’ names
  • Words to explore and avoid.

2. Goal of assignment

What are you trying to accomplish with your brand? What’s the big picture of your company or project? Thinking about your end goal can give you a really great steer on the brand name. When you think about it, it has to be aligned to help you get there, doesn’t it?


3. Describe it in a nutshell

Try and sum up your brand or company in about 23 words (140 characters) or fewer. Keeping it succinct isn’t easy, but it does drive the creative juices and often forces you to use words that have deeper and secondary meanings. Try and create your brand description as a tweet and see what you come up with, you might be very surprised.


4. Brand positioning

This is paramount for a successful brand. Getting your brand in the right place in the marketplace will help it thrive or simply survive. Where do you want your brand to be positioned in the marketplace? What is it that your brand stands for and who is it calling out to?

Working out your brand positioning will help you deep dive into your entire brand and marketing plans.


5. Consumer insights

Consumer insights reveal peoples’ behaviours, as opposed to preferences. For example, when naming a coffee brand, think beyond what people like about coffee, but what circumstances lead them to enjoy a coffee in the first place.

  • Is it for enjoying socially with friends or for business networking?
  • 121 meetings with business connections?
  • Or a coffee with old friends?

Each requires a different message needed to market that coffee, don’t you think?

6. Target audience

Who are the customers you want to reach with your brand? And who are the competition? List them all out and see what you need to be saying and how your competition is saying it. The last thing you need to do is be like them. Why work hard on a brand that simply copies someone else, even inadvertently? That’s not the idea of a brand or what makes it a success.

List your competitors so you know what you are up against and to help you steer clear of similar names.


7. Desired brand experiences

The best brand names evoke a positive brand experience that makes a stronger emotional connection. What are you trying to create? Do you know? You should. Do some work on this area as it will really help you create a sense of realism with your brand and then enable you to see if it matches the experience that your ideal customer would or could want to go on. Emotions always run high in branding, so don’t forget to give them some close attention, too!


8. Brand personality

Who are you? Well, not you – your brand. Who is your brand? And what does it feel like as a personality? How would you describe it?

Write down and work on 5- 12 adjectives that best describe the tone and personality of your brand. This exercise will really help you form a personality and drive the look and feel of your brand and then your brand name.


9. Words to explore

And then – and only then – can you start to list some words down that you feel are right for your brand name. List some words you would like to have in your new name and then let them sit for a while. Sleep on them. Think about them. Maybe ask some trusted peers what they think of when they hear those words?


10. Themes/ ideas to be avoided

It’s also advised to create a list of ideas and words to avoid in your brand. Words have deep meaning and there will be many, many words that you could really do without in your brand name. What are they? Which words mean the opposite to the message and tone that you want to portray?

If you don’t know what they are yet, then maybe you found out in the step above? Be sure to find them though and avoid them in any brand name and in future if you can. Words are powerful, and not always in the right direction.



11. Domain name modifiers

Ah… disaster! The domain name for your beautiful new brand name has already gone. Now what? Well, you might not be able to get the exact domain name now, especially if you brand name has many different meanings (like domain does, actually). It’s likely to be taken, but don’t start again just because of this, use a domain name modifier.

There are loads out there, but here’s a really good round up of 120 domain name modifiers.


12. Name style likes and dislikes

This is a really fun exercise and will get your juices flowing.

List 5 brand names that you like the style of and note why that is. And then list 5 brand names that you really dislike the style of and why that is, too. You have to like your own brand. I know we said it’s for your audience and customers, not you, but let’s not create one we hate!

Work out what you like and dislike and then make sure you’re on the right path. This brand will be a labour of love, hating it won’t help!


13. Namestorming

And then the magic happens. We take everything we’ve done so far then head to Google, Thesaurus, the dictionary, and some agency tools that we use to build a list of names to put forward to the client.

We’ll work with a client on these and look to spin them and create words or phrases that would suit a brand name. It’s rather exciting and this is often where a brand name is born!



It’s not about you… but it’s all down to you…

As we said at the start, a brand name is a core part of your brand but just like the rest of the brand it’s not just about you – it’s about your audience too. Going through the above process really helps to get your focus in the right place and hopefully then create a solid brand name to align with your clients, your business, and the brand you then create with it.

Need some help with all this and the design that needs to be created next? Say Hello here and we’ll discuss all this and more.

Contact us now for a quote or a FREE review of your brand. You’ll get the friendliest response to your question, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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