Strategic naming: 5 keys to a marketing-friendly brand name

When Romeo declared of Juliet that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he surely didn’t know anything about marketing.

That’s because, when you’re building a brand, you can have a great product, but if your name doesn’t resonate, your company won’t go anywhere. No, the fact is that naming is always strategic, and you need to know the rules.

If you’re trying to break into the marketplace, the following five guidelines can help ensure that your name is ready to go live. Launching before your name is ready can land you in a rebranding debacle, so take your time, test it out, and build a brand that consumers will love.

Do Your Homework

One of the key issues you’ll encounter when naming your business is finding a unique name that stands out from the competition but still makes sense.

That’s why your naming process should start with examining the rules established in the registrar of company names and eliminating any names that are too similar to existing businesses. Rules vary at different geographic scales – obviously there are many similarly named pizza joints, while national brands have more legal pull to protect their brand.

Watch The Word Play

When brainstorming names, one of the first things companies tend to do is jump on the wordplay. But while puns may get a good laugh on occasion, they’re a bad choice when it comes to creating a lasting brand. Instead, skip the word play and opt for a name that’s both serious and descriptive. If you don’t take your brand seriously, no one else will.

Balance Unique Elements

While you need to beware of names that are too similar to those of existing businesses, you don’t want to veer entirely off track. Rather, you need to strike a balance between unique elements and more recognizable ones. For example, certain national brands have thrived with unique spellings – think Dunkin’ Donuts or Publix – but atypical spellings can also hold you back. Avoid unusual spellings, such as swapping out an “S” for a “Z” to make a name sound trendier, and skip any archaic or artificially antique spellings.

Consider Your Online Presence

Just because you cleared all the repeat names from your list of potential brands doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. With so many businesses out there, you may find that your preferred social media and website names will be available. Pause for a moment to check for available domain names, then, to be sure you can claim a high-level domain address.

Having an easy to identify domain name and social media address will also benefit your brand down the line by making it easier for your company to create strong social media ads that will grab potential customers’ attention. Too many companies invest huge amounts of time into crafting a brand, but then promote themselves using lackluster social media advertisements. Making sure you have access to a strong, recognizable brand on these platforms will give your company the jumping off point it needs to reach customers.

Make Your Own Meaning

Ultimately, the vast majority of top brand names – think Apple, Nike, or Microsoft – don’t tell buyers anything about the product. This isn’t a great approach for most brands, since you really need the money to turn a say nothing name into a corporate leader, but it does suggest that your name isn’t everything.

Ultimately, it’s more important that you know how you plan to utilize your name to take your brand to the next level. Smart promotion and originality are key, so find your niche. You’ll know when you’ve got it right.