How To Choose The Right Brand Name

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This is one of the questions I get asked a lot. There is not one single answer.

In the past company names and brand names were treated as one. Company names or brand names were not seen as essential, and it was quite common to use your name for both. Times have changed, and the company image or branding has become everything.

You have a choice to call your company or brand anything you want if it hasn’t already been chosen and secured by someone else. If you have some ideas about names, make sure to check it out and see if anyone is already using it and what people relate that name too. This also counts for people’s names. If your name is Tony Robbins, you will struggle using this name as it’s already firmly established and probably secured as well.

Think about the emotional connection down the road

Your company name does not have to be the same as your brand name. But many company names have turned into brand names. Any brand name needs a connection to a product, service or person. For example, if you think about names like Harley Davidson, you’ll probably know that this is the name of the person who started the company. But today we don’t relate the name to that person anymore but to the products, the bikes.

That’s why we are often looking for words that already describe the product or service. This is generally a good idea, but you’re not the only one – and available words are becoming increasingly rare.

If you are a consultant and the work you do depends only on you, your name could be the simplest solution. There are many successful people out there using their name as their brand — Tony Robbins, Armani, Ducati, Louis Vuitton, to name a few. Having your name as a brand name ties you directly to the brand. This can be good or bad.

What’s in a name?

If you know that your business will be about you, it’s a perfect choice. But if you’re thinking about selling the brand one day or getting other people involved at the forefront of the business, this might not be a good solution. In most cases, your name does not tell anyone what it is you’re doing – and this could be a disadvantage.

You should also consider if your name fits the product or service you want to offer. If your name is Jonny Fat and you’re planning to sell diet products, your name might be a disadvantage as a brand name. Keep that in mind and Google it first to see what your name is related to in the market.

Otherwise, there is no specific formula for brand names. If you look at names like Google, you probably wonder who came up with this. Today, Google is one of the biggest brands in the world, and the name has already turned into a verb. That should give you a hint of why Google was chosen.

My tips:

  • Be very clear about your target market and the products and services you’re going to offer
  • Understand the language of your target market
  • If you work internationally, make sure the name you choose does not have a different meaning in a different language
  • As your brand name will most likely be featured on your website, social media pages and email address, make sure it can be spelt easily
  • For the same reason check that the name is available online

Take some sticky notes and start with the obvious like your products and services. For each of them use a different sticky note and stick them to a board or table. Define the local area you work in and sum it up.

If you work only in Italy, write ‘Italian’ on a sticky note. If you cover a bigger area, group, and name that area (Europe, Asia, America, etc.). Next, look at your target market and define it in the same way. If you work mainly for universities, write ‘students’ on a note. Now play with it and put the notes together in a different order. Or group them and define a name for the group and use that. If your result is too large, see if you can meaningfully abbreviate it.

For example, I work with an organization on its Business Booster Mentor Program. The organization is called “European Students of Industrial Engineering and Management”. That is a mouth full, so they came up with “ESTIEM“. Abbreviations don’t always work and are best if they can be pronounced like a word, not just a combination of letters. HPLU is much harder to say than PUHL.

Enjoy the process and tell me…

What is your brand name?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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