Have you ever stumbled across a travel blog called “sexypanda54” and thought about how divine its brand name was?
Nope, me neither.
Your brand name isn’t just the first and last thing people think about, it’s also the centrepiece to the message you communicate with your customers.
But finding a name for your brand is hard, you say. I agree, but it isn’t as hard as you think.
While many will advise you to jump onto a name generator or to pay someone a million dollars to come up with the best brand name, I think that you can simplify the science of devising a genius, sticky brand name in just 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Dig it up From Your Own Heart
When I started my travel & personal growth brand, I decided on the name because it represented a fundamental pain point that I had solved for myself and am trying to solve for others.
My chosen brand name represents the act of taking the first initial step from a total beginner to someone on their way to success. If you’re a seed trying to bloom into a flower, you must first sprout out of the ground to get there. Similarly, my message is to inspire college students to evade the corporate life and pursue their dream of living a location-independent lifestyle.
Do you now see how my brand name plays into my message? Now try the same with yours.
What makes your heart sing? What hurts you personally? What do you wish the world knew? Combine your answers to each of those into one or two word potential brand names.
Step 2: Look at Competitors For Brand Name Inspiration (but not too closely!)
If you’re still lost, try looking at your immediate competitors for inspiration. Influencers alike will see that a lot of people take a play on their own names (i.e. Hey Nadine or Lost Leblanc), so you may feel inspired to do the same.
I wouldn’t advise you to study a specific competitor too closely, though, because you don’t want to turn into them. Analyze a few, get inspired, but stick with your main, underlying purpose that you found in step 1.
Step 3: Brainstorm by Using Existing Strategies
Oftentimes, the hardest part of brainstorming is actually finding the ability to sit down with yourself and focus.
I need you to do two things for me. First, set twenty minutes aside without access to anything except a pen or paper (that means no phone!). Second, use some of the following strategies for categorizing brand names, which I learned when reading Alina Wheeler’s book Designing Brand Identity:
- Founder: A name based on a real or fictional person, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Warby Parker, or Betty Crocker.
- Descriptive: A name that describes what you do or make, such as General Motors.
- Fabricated: A totally made-up name or word, such as Kodak, Xerox, or TiVo.
- Metaphor: Mythical, foreign, or imagery-heavy things, places, people, animals, or processes, such as Nike or Patagonia.
- Acronym: A name that uses initials or an abbreviation, such as DKNY or GE.
- Magic spell: A name that is a portmanteau (two words together) or a real word with a made-up spelling, such as Facebook or Flickr.
Try to come up with 15-20 names in total based on these categories.
Step 4: Search For Domains (This is painful)
I had a few names before coming up with my choice, but when I plugged each of them into Google Domains to check for domain availability, I was out of luck.
If you completed the first three steps, however, you’ve successfully devised at least fifteen potential brand names. Once you’ve plugged each of them into domain availability trackers, you’ll have a final list to choose from.
Step 5: Go Back to Step 1 With Your New List
Now that you have a list of readily available, on-brand brand names, it’s time to make your decision.
There are two ways that you can actually do this. The first is to beta test by making a Google Forms sheet and asking every single human being you know to fill out their opinion of which brand name works best, and the second one is to follow your heart and see which name aligns most directly with your purpose.
Both situations will yield valuable results.
Above all, coming up with a brand name is hard work. It does not come overnight, so don’t be stressed out at first, and consider seeking external help (like mentorship) if you run into too many obstacles.