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What’s in a Name? 5 Considerations before naming your brand

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I remember getting some great advice about naming your dog. Pick names you like for the dog, then go outside and call the dog using each name. Whichever one you aren’t embarrassed to be heard yelling around the neighborhood, is the one you should choose.

If you are in the market to name a new business or an organization formed by acquisition, merger or divestiture, it’s a little more complicated. Some people start by asking their golfing buddies, kids, unemployed cousin, or friends for ideas. This may yield some special results, but it may be even less successful than the technique above for naming a dog.

The process to develop and secure a name requires insight, commitment and guidance. The name you choose will be the bedrock upon which to build and brand your business.

When I work with clients on name development, some of the basics I consider, depending on the type of business and the audience to which it should appeal, are:

  1. Coined name—I may develop a coined name. The advantages: you will be able to get a URL for it. It will get attention. You can build a story around it. No one else will have it. Disadvantages: you may need a tagline, story or provide pronunciation tips to help explain it initially. It will take longer for people to become accustomed to it, but it will be harder to forget.
  2. Phrase or word that express the expresses the value—Helping people to feel or experience your brand helps bond the right clients to you. The word(s) may conjure a visual. The more of the senses your name appeals to, the greater the memory retention. The disadvantages: difficulty finding something appropriate that is not already in use, especially within your industry; Finding words that work in different languages or cultures.
  3. Trademark—Is this potential name able to be trademarked? A preliminary search can tell you whether a particular name is currently registered. Before diving into brand building, you can protect your brand by registering the trademark name either directly or through a trademark attorney.
  4. URL—Today, having a URL consistent with your name is important. Most searchers intuitively look for yourbrand.com. New extensions (.net, .us, .tv, etc.) can offer some alternatives. Put yourself in a prospect’s shoes. How can you make it easy for them to find you?
  5. Resonance—Do you like it? Does it have some cachet? Say it aloud. Practice answering the phone with it. While subjective, it is important to see if you like the way it trips off your tongue.

Choosing a name is a big step, full of uncertainty. You can test it in focus groups. You can survey it. You can evaluate data. And, if all else fails, open the nearest door or window and yell it loud. How’d that feel?

Before You Brand: The Gut-check Guide to set up your brand for successAre you ready to build or energize your brand but don't know how to get started?

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Next Issue:

What's Love Got to Do with It? Getting behind the brand.

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