How to create a name for your brand

Names. They are important because language defines reality.


In the game of "branding" where we are seeking to manage meaning, names are a key signal which helps audiences connect with the meaning we have designed for them.


Done correctly they can become part of our business culture, customer vocabulary and shape the world the brand exists to bring into reality.


But how does one come up with a meaningful name which will catch on? Heres some ideas.


Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash


Naming Tools

First, let me introduce you to three tools:


1. SCAMPER

SCAMPER is a mnemonic. It stands for 7 prompts to help come up with new ideas and ways of thinking. If you are in a group get everyone to go through these seven and new ideas are bound to flow.

The 7 prompts are as follows:

  1. Substitute - 
What bits could be substituted for other solutions?

  2. Combine
 - Can we fuse together different ideas?

  3. Adapt
 - What would we need to tweak to reach better results?

  4. Modify - 
How could we completely change an element of the idea so that it works better?

  5. Put to another use - 
What other purposes could this idea be
used for?

  6. Eliminate - 
Which parts of the idea could be eliminated?

  7. Reverse
 - How could we rearrange the idea to explore the innovative potential?


2. BRAND NAMING MATRIX

Below I've listed 7 criteria which your new brand name could be measured against. No brand is a winner in each aspect.

  1. Unique - how distinctive is the name. Does it stand out? Do you remember it? Does it sound like something that is already out there? Are you sure nobody else in your category is using something similar in another part of their business?

  2. Suitable - does it fit the vision of the brand? The archetypal personality the brand is going to live into? Does it connect with the purpose of the brand? Does it help to represent the brand story?

  3. Short - Long brand names will be shortened. "British Home Stores" was shortened to "BHS". "North Atlantic Treaty Organization" is known as "NATO". "Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus" has become "SCUBA". "National Aeronautics and Space Administration" is "NASA". These acronyms lose the original meaning of the name. Stay ahead of this and ensure your new name is not long-winded.

  4. Easy - Is the name easy to say and spell? Could it be used in a sentence - like "I'm going to Google it"?

  5. Likeable - Is it enjoyable to use. Does it feel nice in your mouth when you say it?

  6. Adaptable - Could it be extended to include other products, services or experiences? For example, if you were to hold an event how could the new name be used in the name of the event?

  7. Ownable - Is it being used by someone else? Can you trademark it? Can you have the Twitter handle or URL? If not for the specific name then what would you have to do to tag onto the side to make it work - does this created added complications?


Suggested 10 step process

If you follow this process you will have a working name within 2 hours. Its fast and it's effective using the concepts of agile strategy and design thinking to collaboratively generate a new meaningful name.


  1. Get your leadership team in a room. This only works with people who ultimately will have a say in the selection of the name. I'd also suggest getting an ideal customer in there too. Explain the idea for the new business / product / service and any preliminary brand strategy work you have done (e.g. which archetype you will be living into, who the new brand is for, it's vision for the world and why anyone should care).

  2. Split everyone into smaller groups (x3 groups of x4 people is ideal).

  3. Ask everyone to brainstorm words which describe the business / product / service. Set a timer for 15 mins. When it goes off give 3 mins for the groups to pick out their top x5.

  4. Come back together as a group and whiteboard up each group's selections.

  5. Ask everyone to brainstorm words which describe the benefit, feeling or outcome of that using the new business / product / service . Set a timer for 15 mins. When it goes off give 3 mins for the groups to pick out their top x5.

  6. Come back together as a group and whiteboard up each group's selections.

  7. You should now have two lists of words. Next, get the group to see if they can combine or add in additional words to create a distinctive and unique name. Use the "SCAMPER" tool highlighted above. Set a timer for 15 mins. When it goes off give 3 mins for the groups to pick out their top x2. You should now have x6 potential names. I always like to get the group to all vote on a wildcard. This makes x7.

  8. Next use the "Brand Name Matrix" described above to score the best names against each criteria item out of 10. Set out a grid and as a group score each one (see the Brand Matrix Canvas below). This will give you the top three. Maybe you can select the top one from it? However, you may wish to do two further tasks after the brainstorm.

  9. Test it with your target audience by arranging focus groups. You could always test the top three and see which one comes out on top.

  10. Send the name to a solicitor who specialises in trademarking to ensure that you can own and defend it.


Brand Name Matrix Canvas



Conclusion


And there you have it. This is how you can create a new brand name in 2 hours. I wish you well in thinking up meaningful, relevant and exciting names for the brands of the tomorrow which will shape the world of the future.


But remember. The brand is not a name. It's not even a logo. It's the meaning people attach to it. The process of branding is therefore never over because you have to keep managing the meaning people attach to you.




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