This month’s issue of Fast Company magazine features an interesting article by Chip and Dan Heath talking about the art of brand names. They focus on Lexicon, one marketing agency with a track record for creating iconic brand names like Blackberry and the Colgate Wisp. The process they uncover is part science, part serendipity, and is a telling exploration of an effort that many large businesses pour months of time and millions of dollars into. If you heard the stories of research that went into Microsoft’s quest for the perfect name for their search engine, Bing, you already know this phenomena well.
How much time and money did you spend identifying the name you were going to use for your business? Perhaps the name just came to you. Or maybe you asked dozens of people and went back and forth about it. However you ended up where you are, that process has likely come and gone -- and this is not a post about convincing you to change the business name you already have.
Instead, ask yourself if you really know what your brand name is saying about your business. Potential customers will likely hear the name of your business before they hear anything else. Once they hear that name, they are also likely to have a first reaction to it. In my experience, there are five methods small business owners typically use to choose a business name.
To help you get the most out of your brand name, here is a list of five different brand naming methods:
1. Familial. Some of the world’s greatest companies started this way -- simply by taking the name of their founder. If your business fits this model, chances are you have a strong personality at the head of the company. This person is likely the voice of the company and will give people a personal connection to the business. The more opportunities you can create for potential customers to relate to this individual, the more business you will be able to do.
2. Logical. Logic is a great and often underrated way to name a business. Next Day Blinds is a great example of this, and if your business was named with this in mind, the biggest benefit you have is that it is the type of business you have is immediately obvious to anyone who hears your name. Use every chance you can to remind people about your business by promoting the name. Put it on the side of your business truck. Repeat it often on your website. The more you establish an ownable brand, the more customers you can draw.
3. Thematic. A theme can evoke an emotion for an entire category. Restaurant owners tend to be particularly active at using this type of brand name to describe their establishment. The added benefit of this is that going with a theme provides you with a canvas from which to create an entire experience for your customer.
4. Localized. The most important aspect of a name like this is location. By using a specific location in the name of your business, you have highlighted that your location is going to be a key reason for customers to visit you. Much of the value you can gain from this is by having smart ways to reach out to potential customers who are already close to the location you want them to be at.
5. Random. For some businesses, having a unique name is the most important thing simply because the name can help you to stand out and be memorable. If you have a name like this, chances are you have focused on creating a logo or visual version of the name that you want to be recognizable in your industry. Consistency is the key to making a name like this work for your business. Make sure you use it on all your printed materials, that it is repeated often and that it is integrated into everything that you do.
Rohit Bhargava is the author of the best selling marketing book Personality Not Included, a guide on using personality to create a more human small business that employees love to work for and customers can’t wait to buy from.
Image credit: moominsean