12 Most Crucial Considerations when Choosing a Brand Name
After years spent envisioning, developing, and fine-tuning a new product, the funnest part must be dreaming up a brand name.
Pick something cool and fun, and people will love and remember your product. But picking a brand name is not nearly as easy as you might think, particularly now that social media is the main market tactic for most new brands. In my role as a social media listening researcher, I am often at the mercy of poorly chosen brand names — the person who must tell a client that no, your brand cannot take full advantage of listening research. Let me help you with a few easy tips.
1. Choose a name that is easy to spell
Yes, creativity is a wonderful thing but with autocorrect and spellcheck, the average consumer doesn’t have the spelling skills that you require. Brands like Propecia, Keurig, and Cruze make it difficult for consumers to find them online because there are about 15 different ways to spell each one, which makes it difficult for researchers like myself to find online consumer opinions.
2. Choose a short name
Yes, it’s good when brand names are descriptive but not everyone has the same attention span or memory that you do. When someone searches for your brand online, will they remember the order of the words, or even all of the words? So how will they find your brand? I still can’t remember the order or precise words for Clear (clean?) Hair and Scalp Therapy.
3. Choose a unique name
Yes, you can choose a hip and cool name that is short and sweet but if it’s not unique, consumers will never find you online. Gap, Apple, McDonald’s, Coke, and Target are lucky enough that the major search engines make special arrangements for searches on those words but they won’t do it for your new brand. Go ahead, name your product “Finish,” “Green,” or “Flash” and no consumer will ever find you online.
4. If you must choose a ubiquitous brand name, choose one that isn’t ubiquitous to the category
Apple refers to many things, but when it’s next to the word computer, you can be pretty sure it means Apple computers. But “Express” next to “shopping” could mean the Express clothing store or the express line at any store. The movie “Up” never stood a chance either.
5. Choose a unique spelling
I’m not talking about replacing every e with a 3 or every i with a 1. I’m talking about changing one letter or dropping one letter. Lots of cool internet apps are doing this. Maybe you think it’s annoying but try searching for Tumblr or Flickr and then tell me how hard it was to find them.
6. Choose a name without inherent sentiment
Obviously, we want consumers to think of our brand name in a positive way. But when your brand name automatically triggers sentiment engines to calculate a positive score everytime it sees your name, you will never get a valid measure of your brand in comparison to another. Snuggle and Mr. Clean aren’t such great names afterall. Neither is Assassin’s Creed or Mad Men.
7. Check the acronym for naughty words
When every individual character is a precious commodity, you can be sure that people will turn your delightfully clever brand name into a short and stubby acronym. Coors Light Iced Tea is simply too long of a brand name to write out in full in a tweet. Now turn it into an acronym.
8. Check the acronym for duplicates
We do love acronyms but they cause many problems. Want to collect data about the British Petroleum oil spill? Make sure your dataset isn’t full of Boston Pizza, Basis Points, and Blood Pressure. Interested in General Motors Corporation data? Make sure you aren’t including Gospel Music Channel or Greenwood Medical Clinic data too.
9. Pretend you’re 12 years old
Play the rhyming game and try to figure out how consumers will mutilate your brand name. Walmart passes all the previous criteria with flying colors. Until you think about Walbarf and Walfart. With that in mind, put your profanity laced mind to work and Starbucks doesn’t stand a chance.
10. Don’t be rude
Oh yes, it’s terribly funny to choose a brand name that your mom would disapprove of. But if your consumer is too embrassed to type in the words and learn more about your product, then they certainly won’t be handing you their money. Pussy energy drinks and Fucking Hell clothing might want to think twice.
11. Don’t be a copycat
You’re at a computer right now. Search the brand name you like and see if it’s already taken. If someone else is already using it, then think of something else. Metro is a newspaper, a grocery store, and a subway. Subway is an underground train and a sandwich shop. Do you want your listening dataset full of data about another brand?
12. Have more than a brand name
So maybe people can’t remember your brand name. Chances are they will remember the huge comfy green chair (TD — touchdown!), the dark haired lady with the bright red lipstick (Progressive — thinking?), or the lizard (Geico — is it “i” before “e” or “e” before “i”?). These not-so-great brand names have the advantage of a strong theme or character. And, when I try to find data for them online, I can search for that extra tidbit of information too.
Now you might be wondering if there are any great brand names out there. Well, obviously there are. Pepsi, Burger King, Taco Bell, Facebook, Adidas, Panera, Microsoft, and KitchenAid are all short, easy to spell, unique brand names that will never be used in a way that doesn’t mean the brand, and are easy for consumers to find online. And easy for me to research.
What are your favorite brand names and why? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Urban Woodswalker licensed via Creative Commons.