Naming & Branding
Everything in life has a perception about it. Nothing exists in a vacuum. So will it be for your product and your company. A name is what you are called. A brand is the identity — the positioning and points of differentiation — that your name is known for. A distinctive name combined with a good branding strategy allows you to create a wonderful impression about your product in the hearts of your customers. It is what people “feel” about your product, not what they “think” about your product, that will resonate most. Your name does not have to appeal to everyone. In fact, trying to promote a name that appeals to everyone will likely appeal to no one. Pick a name that you can build equity in and that you can defend from companies in the market and from potential squatters. Then build a brand around that name that communicates why you are a different and better choice than the other products in the market.
Things to Think About and Decide
Should your company name and product name be one in the same? It is very difficult (and expensive) for a startup to promote both a company name and a product name. Most people buy products, not companies. As a startup, think about making your company name and product name one in the same.
How can you create an emotional attachment to your brand? How people feel about something trumps what they think about it.
A suggestive name versus a descriptive name. Suggestive names are more memorable and more defensible.
Can your product name suggest the experience people will have from using your product? Your product must create a distinctive (not necessarily better) experience than that of competitive products. How might your name reinforce this distinctive experience?
Can your brand “own” the terms (or meaning) that are used to search for it? People don’t find products by entering a URL in the web address field, they find products by entering a search term.
Can you build trademark rights in your brand and your domain name?
Can your logo (visual identity) be clearly expressed as a 16×16 pixel icon in the web address bar?
Things To Do
Get your bearings, understand the ins and outs of naming and branding. Understand what names have become good brands — and why. Understand why some products names failed to resonate with customers.
- Read the Igor Naming Guide
- Read The Name Inspector
- Read Syllables, Scrabble Letters, and Picking Brand Names
- Read How to Name Your Startup
- Read What’s In A Name? Naming Your Company, Product or Service
Now that you have some best practices guidelines, assemble a group of friends and associates who are also likely users of your product. Brainstorm a list of possible names.
Test the names you like and see if they are available. Checkout NameBoy, FuseName, and Domain Name Generator. Understand the visual connections your names have by testing them at Visual Thesaurus. Do a Trademark Search to see if others have a similar name or mark.
Pitch your names at Elegant.ly. Test them on MTurk. Run a mini ad campaign using the names on Google AdWords, Linkedin and/or Facebook to see what kind of draw they have. What are others paying to buy those keywords?
Finally, develop a branding strategy around your name and logo. Check out More Limelight for a step-by-step process.
Recommended Readings and Resources
WordLab – An online community dedicated to naming and branding.
RhymeZone – Rhyming dictionary and thesaurus.