Naming your business, product or service can be a fun—even entertaining—process. It also involves serious strategy. When done right, with help from an experienced marketing professional, a thoughtfully chosen name will score winning points in customer recognition, confidence, loyalty and satisfaction. Learn how by using these seven critical criteria in your next naming process:
1. Welcoming first impression Your business name is the virtual front door to your company. Does it invite people in? A name should spur curiosity, start conversations, be memorable and create loyalty. Using names as simple identifiers, such as Hometown Window Shades or Midwest Snack Chips, is wasting a very valuable asset. How do you want your potential customers to feel? That you’re the rescuing hero saving them from disaster? A counseling mentor, reliable partner, nurturing mother, fun friend? Choose a name that makes them feel this way. And always remember that it’s emotionally driven human beings, not target demographics, who buy your products.
2. Does it fit? Does your business name make sense for what you do? Naming a men’s weightlifting gym “The Fitness Boutique” will probably not attract hordes of iron-pumping guys. Remember, you’re not naming a tangible company or product, you’re naming what you stand for—your brand.
3. Be different To be different, you first need to know who you are. Why are you better than your competition? Who are your target markets, what’s important to them, and how can you solve their challenges? With all this in mind, now look at competitor names…then start heading in a different direction. Toss aside overused words such as “solutions” and “business.” They’re almost meaningless and a waste of good moniker real estate. A thesaurus may help, but the best naming processes cast a wide net into literature, science, art, music, nature, sports and farther to capture the quintessential name. Don’t have the time? Hiring a professional marketing strategist is the easiest, and safest, way to approach naming.
4. Brief and easy Make sure the name is easy to spell and pronounce. Getting overly creative with spelling and pronunciation will make your business or product more difficult to find online and in databases. Typically, keeping names to four syllables or less is best. More than that and you may end up with people using abbreviations and nicknames that could ultimately hurt your brand. Another, less technical, consideration is how the name sounds. Is it fun to say? Does it “roll off your tongue”? If so, you’ve just won more points.
5. Extension play The best names can be extended for use in multiple ways. They are open-ended and ripe for serial storytelling through advertising, graphics, PR, events, corporate sponsorship's, cross-marketing and other communications. McDonald's uniquely branded menu items is a great example of extension play.
6. Remove limitations
Forcing new names to fit into a “family name” structure can lead to uninspiring, downright lame names. Drop the restrictions and you’ll end up with a more appropriate name. And don’t give up if you’re unable to secure the perfect matching domain name. A great business name with a hyphenated or otherwise modified domain is more powerful than a mediocre business name that matches perfectly with its domain. Don’t worry, Google will easily find you.
7. Legally defensible A good name keeps legal fees to a minimum. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps by registering trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, and business names so that potential look-alikes do not confuse customers.
Even though naming includes a lot of serious research to steer clear of potential legal and commerce problems, it can also be a lot of fun.
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