When people give birth to a baby, one of the very first things they do is to give the baby a name. Characteristically, every new baby needs a name they would be known and called by — the same logic underlies why businesses are given brand names.
Consequently, if naming a business is necessary, then it is important to examine what exactly is the secret to choosing a brand name that has the potential to evolve into a household name.
This article provides a few tips to consider when deciding what name you would like to call your business.
A young man, Eddie Coli left Italy for the United States when he was 24 in search of a better life.
Having worked many years as a factory worker, a garden assistant and a farm driver, he retired at 60 to open his own grocery story just around the corner from the street he lived on since he arrived America.
Eddie decided to only sell the freshest vegetables as he could channel his years of experience in gardening and farming to provide his community with healthy vegetables.
The cheerful grandfather paid for a business plan, got market research done and chose the best location for his new store. He paid a premium for the store but he was happy to do it.
The numbers said his vegetable store was bound to be a success. The community needed the products and they loved him, so they were happy to patronise his business.
Like all the bodegas on the broadway, he named his shop after himself – E. Coli Vegetables. Like McDonald’s.
Three months later, Eddie Coli couldn’t understand why business was bad. So bad in fact.
The vegetables were rotting in the store and only a handful of people were coming through the door.
At this point, Eddie was confused and terribly sad.
Until he turned on the news one day and saw the report on the local TV station: LOCAL COUNCIL TO SHUT DOWN E. COLI OUTBREAK FACTORY.
Eddie was shocked. Why did the local council want to shut down his struggling shop? What had he done?
He quickly called his daughter to inform her of the news.
After watching the news, Eddie’s daughter not only had the answer to her father’s puzzlement, she also had the answer to why his business was not making money.
It was the name.
You see, E.coli is a bacteria that normally lives in the intestines of humans and animals. Although generally harmless, some E.coli strains can also cause food poisoning, pneumonia and urinary tract infection.
They are commonly found in vegetables.
When Eddie launched his store, it coincided with an outbreak of the bacteria in the area. So there was a high-level of awareness of the bacteria E.coli and people were scared.
E.COLI VEGETABLES suddenly became a cursed brand name for poor Eddie.
As it is for many businesses today.
So what’s special about a brand name?
One of the first things to figure out when starting a business or creating a brand is the NAME.
While a business can be called (just about) any name, a brand that’s serious about long-term existence must be named strategically.
A name is an identity. It is often the first thing people remember about a thing or a person, before their face.
Choosing a business/brand name is a rather delicate affair.
You want something catchy but you also want something meaningful.
You should go for something memorable but you also need to think about relevance.
You want a short name but also something long enough to convey the mission of the brand.
So what do you do?
This checklist will help you.
1. CHECK THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
If you plan to trademark your brand name, you should check that the name you choose meets the requirements before registering it.
Some countries also do not allow certain names to be part of a brand name.
So be sure to research what is permissible and what isn’t. Possibly ask a legal advisor or a business consultant for guidance. If you’re working with a brand strategist, be sure to ask them to check the name restrictions as you choose a name for your brand.
2. OBSERVE CULTURAL CONVENTIONS
In some places, E.coli Vegetables would be a great business name. In other places, it’s taboo because of cultural experiences, knowledge and social events.
Make sure your brand name is not offensive to your (potential) target market. Some names do well in one society but do poorly in others. If you sell to multiple markets or plan to do so in the future, ensure that your brand is suitable for your present and prospective buyers.
Avoid names that have ethnic, racial, sexual or other offensive connotations.
3. FOCUS ON RECALL
A good brand name is easy to remember. It is short, catchy and pleasant to think about.
Whatever brand name you choose, make it impressionable. Google had to change from BackRub for this very reason.
So keep in mind that the goal is to get people to remember your brand name. Try to pick a name that doesn’t need too much effort to remember.
While Electronic Art Sports is good, EA Sports is better.
4. MAKE IT RELATABLE
There’s no rule that says your brand name must immediately communicate the business objectives.
But if you’re not a global business giant with mass marketing reach, choose a brand name that easily communicates what your business is about to a customer.
Customers often like to know what they are dealing with, without having to search endlessly for clues. If possible, the name you choose should provide the most important clue as to what your brand does. For instance, iFitness is easily a gym or at least a place where fitness is a priority.
5. FAMILY NAME OR GENERIC NAME?
Some business owners wonder about using their names as part of their brand names or whether to pick a generic name that does not tie them to the brand or vice versa.
Again, there’s no rule.
My modus operandi for my clients is to use personal names for small family-type businesses or big groups with big marketing budgets e.g. Big Phil’s Gym, Dangote.
For retail and e-comm brands, a generic name works e.g. ShopRite, The Place.
A hybrid name works too e.g. Vayner Media by Gary Vaynerchuk.
6. KEEP IT FLEXIBLE
It is important to pick a name that is easy to rebrand with minimal disruption to the existing brand.
Don’t pick a name that cannot work when you desire to scale in a few years.
Hair By Helen is well and good until you need a business partner to buy major stakes in your business and their name is not also Helen.
Your years of building that brand can be lost in an instant because the partner insists on a new name – Hairific.
So keep the name flexible, and that might mean making certain compromises such as not using your name as part of your brand name.
While there’s no fixed set of rules to choosing a brand name, following this guide will save you a lot of stress in the future.
What’s the best and worst brand name you’ve ever seen, heard or known?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Julius Omokhunu is a seasoned Business Strategist and Coach. He holds a Masters Degree in Media and Communication and several certifications in management, development and leadership.
He is the author of the bestseller, Unlocking the Secrets of Freelancing.
Follow Julius Omokhunu on IG/FB @Juliusomokhunu
or visit his website- www.juliusomokhunu.com
Send Julius your thoughts on Instagram @juliusomokhunu or visit his website www.JuliusOmokhunu.com to contact me for branding inquiries.
Here’s another article written by Julius Omokhunu 👇