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Does the name matter?

How do you name a brand?

Picking a name is hard. On one hand, the choice is basically limitless, on the other, it feels like all the good ones are taken. Frustrating. But does the name even matter? And if it does, why?
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Stuart Ross
August 29, 2021
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The value of the name 

For most organisations, along with the logo, the name is the most important brand asset. When people hear it, they think about the organisation and everything they associate with it: products & offerings, memories, adverts, sights, smells. The great brand names conjure up a lot more than just an image of packaging.

Take some examples:

·     Disney

·     Ferrari

·     Coca-Cola

Those words now have pretty distinct connections for most of us, often a lot more than just the products they sell. For some, the word Disney reminds them of family, childhood, theme parks, cartoons, funny quotes from movies, mice.

Ferrari is more than the cars: wealth, success, exclusivity, Italy.

Personally, Coca-Cola reminds me of Pepsi.

But are any of those connections because of the names themselves?


The Empty Vessel

A popular school of thought says that the name is just an empty vessel, and as your brand grows you fill that vessel with products, services, customer experiences, advertisement etc. The name becomes an anchor for how your customers feel about your brand.

So, we can name our brand anything we like, and then get to work making sure it anchors to good stuff. Right?

Sort of.


The Rules

Though a name might be an ‘empty vessel’, it’s still good to choose the right vessel.

Here are some tips for name selection


1.     Memorable & Unique.

AKA ‘stickiness’, this is how well your brand name stands out and sticks in minds, & it’s very hard to get right.

You want to choose a name that people remember, but you don’t want it to be so unique that it’s just weird. A general rule of thumb for being memorable: one or two syllables is best.


2.     Easy to Spell.

It can be tempting to spell your name in a creative or fun way (using a 'K' instead of a 'C' is a popular example) but what happens when your customers google you?

You’ll give yourself an SEO headache if people have multiple ways of spelling your name.


3.     Match your brand personality.

Your name should reflect the tone of your company. If you’re a serious law firm, don’t call yourself Goofy Morons. Conversely, if you’re selling costumes, Goofy Morons might be ok. Pick something that suits the personality of your organisation.


4.     Avoid Clichés.

Ending your name with a hard ‘R’ was once pretty trendy (Tumblr, Flickr) but now it seems dusty. If you need to be cliched, make sure it’s not already outdated.

(note, this hard 'R' trend causes that SEO headache we mentioned above)


5.     Easy to Pronounce.

It might sound stupid, but you want people to talk about your brand, right? Make sure it’s something people can actually say. And if you want to go global, maybe even consider how easy it is to pronounce in multiple accents.


6.     Ownable.

This, for us, is probably the single most important factor. Before you spend time and money on brand assets, make sure the name isn’t already taken:

a.    Is there a suitable URL available? Avoid uncommon domains like .net & if you can’t get your chosen URL on or .com, maybe think about a different URL or even a different name altogether

b.    Check your social media channels and grab even the ones you’re not using yet: if this is your brand name then you don’t want to be held to ransom for your Twitter handle next year

c.     Remember, if your brand name is already owned by someone else then you’re putting yourself at risk if you decide to use it


7.     Ignore the rules you don’t agree with.

Lots of giant brands have broken several of these rules and it didn’t hold them back. But, if you do decide to go with a name that’s hard to pronounce, hard to spell, or doesn’t really match the personality of your brand, just be aware of the risks.


Good luck & have fun!