Product and company names should be simple, unique, relevant and effective.
By Ryan Hembree
The first impression of a branded product, service or company is its name. Successful brand names communicate unique qualities, value and benefits, while also building a positive perception that can command a premium price. In this way, brand names become differentiators that add value within a market and become a source of competitive advantage.
Selecting an appropriate name is one of the most important parts of building a successful brand. It also happens to be one of the most challenging. Successful brand names should be simple, unique, relevant and effectively communicate consistency to the target market.
1. Be Simple
Names should be short, sweet and to the point. Brand names can be creative, yet still simple. The trick is to be clever, not cutesy or cliché. Avoid being overly specific for a company name, as it may limit the perception of the products or services you provide.
Names that are too difficult to spell or pronounce—including foreign words—only complicate and frustrate customers. Mashing two or three different words together will only result in a lengthy, nonsensical identity. Shortened or abbreviated names are not desirable either. When it comes time to make a purchase decision, will the customer remember those three letters, or will they get them confused with something else?
Likewise, the days of alphabetically listed phone books are long gone thanks to the proliferation of Google and other online search engines, so using “AAA” as a naming convention is not only unnecessary, but looks out of date as well.
2. Be Unique
In order to stand out in a crowded industry or market, a brand must be memorable—clearly identifying the product, service or business and differentiating it from competing brands.
Using the names of the founders or partners of a company may seem like a way to achieve originality, however, this ties too much equity to an individual’s reputation, instead of the quality and performance of the product or service.
Ensure uniqueness in naming by searching the Whois database at www.internic.com to see if a potential name has been registered as a Web site (.com and .net are the most commonly registered domains). If the URL is available, chances are the name is not only distinct, but legally protectable as well. A search of the online United States Patent and Trademark Office database (http://tess2.uspto.gov) will help confirm whether there is an existing trademark.
3. Be Relevant
The more relevant to target customers within an industry, the more memorable and less generic a brand name will be. Successful names offer customers an idea about the type of product or service a company provides, or how it might be beneficial to them. Simply adding adjectives to describe the quality of the brand is not enough to connect emotionally with the customer. The goal of naming is to make a product or service more approachable for customers, thus establishing a positive affinity and loyalty to the brand.
4. Be Effective
Simplicity, uniqueness and relevance are important considerations when undertaking the challenge of developing a brand name. The key to any successful brand, however, is how effective the name is. The brand must effectively communicate consistency—consistency in the messages being communicated to the customer, the actual product or service performance and the overall customer experience and satisfaction with the brand. It won’t matter how memorable the name is if the brand fails to meet the expectations of the customer. Worse yet, it could become memorable for all the wrong reasons—and that’s not effective at all.