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How to Name Brands

  • 2 minutes reading time

Pinkberry, a popular frozen yogurt chain, has spurred countless imitators with “berry”-studded names, so when a yogurt chain approached Alexandra Watkins, the chief innovation officer of Eat My Words, a San Francisco-based company that names brands, she wanted to help them find a really distinctive name.

They ended up calling the company Spoon Me, and the name was such a hit that t-shirts and bumper stickers bearing the new brand name were flying out of the floor. “They’re making more money selling t-shirts and buttons and bumper stickers than they are selling frozen yogurts,” she claims. When “people are paying you to advertise your brand, that’s the ultimate in a good brand name.”

Vodafone: Simply short for Voice, Data, Telephone. Google: Based on googol, which means 10 raised to the 100th, reflecting the company’s mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the Web. Ambience: Grown from an apartment complex in Gurgaon to two of the most visited malls in India. These are excellent names.

But larger businesses can also end up with weak names (for a different reason.) They “put a lot of money and time into testing a name to make sure that it doesn’t offend anyone and that everyone understands it,” says Alexandra. “That’s why larger companies have to end up having tame, descriptive, and flat names.”

eBay has a great logo, but the very best part is its name’s look, which is exactly what I want to highlight here. I’m not talking about the sound or the meaning of the name, but its look. eBay has a lowercase ‘E,’ an uppercase ‘B,’ and the rest is in lowercase. Just like Apple typefaces the iPod or the iPhone with a lowercase ‘I’ and an uppercase ‘P,’ eBay does the same. This makes the name look good.

When you see the text ‘IPhone’ or ‘Iphone,’ you feel uneasy because you know it’s not the correct way to write it. You always write Google with a capital ‘G’ and 9GAG with all letters in uppercase, because it is the look of the brand name.

Dave Mosher that “easily pronounced named may make people more likable.” Forget made-up words and nonsense phrases. One of the key parts about naming your brand is that it should be easy to pronounce, maybe one or two syllables. Simple and straightforward are back in style. See Google and Apple, easy to pronounce and remember. If my friend with a Russian accent can’t pronounce it well, think of it as a failure.

Your brand will become more widely-known and hopefully unforgettable. In trade, this is called stickiness. “Every company wants a name that stands out from the crowd, a catchy handle that will remain fresh and memorable over time. That’s a challenge because naming trends change, often by year, making timeless named hard to find,” says Martin Zwilling.

Remember the KISS principle: Keep is simple, silly.

The shorter in length, the better. Avoid using hyphens and other special characters, and pick a name closer to A than Z. Since the directory listings across the world are alphabetically, try to be on the first few pages to attract more customers. Nowadays, names are also converted to verbs by time, like, Google it or Facebook him. A simple and sensible name would help you that way too.

Avoid words that you would love to explain in a cocktail party. Try to stick to words that can easily be spelled by customers. For example, it became a trend to spell craft as kraft in businesses. Avoid incorrect spelling, because search engines might just correct them, and customers won’t find your webpages.

And finally, make sure your name’s domain is available and registered by you before finalizing. Apple paid $4.5M for icloud.com.

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About the author

Anand Chowdhary

Anand Chowdhary is a creative technologist and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CTO of Pabio, an interior design and rent-to-own furniture company funded by Y Combinator. He lives in Groningen, the Netherlands.

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