We should be cognizant of building a brand that conforms with the dynamic time. About 500 million brands exist in the world today. In this age, where both physical and virtual worlds are growing in tandem at breakneck speeds, identifying a unique name among them and moreover placing it in the virtual and the physical ecosystem is a remarkable challenge all by itself. Only individuals who dare to take up this remarkable hurdle will successfully establish world-renowned brands.
Remember!! A bad brand name might help you become financially rich. But it will haunt your self-esteem always. Read this article fully to understand the significance of naming and avoid or repeat pitfalls.
Let me elaborate on the above quote with one of my personal experiences which took place less than a year ago. I was in attendance at one of the premier tourism exhibitions in a South Indian city. While I was interacting with one of the attendees; a hotel owner from Sri Lanka, one of my old friends who were not in touch with me recently happened to see me as well and came to socialize with me. After few pleasantries, I introduced both of them to each other; my old friend, who was an established hotel owner himself with 4 establishments of his own in the Middle East and South India, was shocked while both of them chose to share their business cards. Both of us were bewildered to see that both of the owners shared a common organization name – EMERALD with all but one letter used differently. Choosing not to reveal the predicament, my old friend left us without sharing his business card. It was only later when I did a Google search that I understood there were thousands of organizations with the name ‘EMERALD’ in different cities all over the world.
You might become successful in your business and earn a turnover in crores. But what would happen when one day you could come to know that there is another organization in the same business stream as yours that too shares the very same name as of yours? The fact that you are not original, not unique, will haunt always. Originality is something that money cannot buy!
So, before you think of a name, it is important for you to be aware of:
- Who you are?
- What are your objectives?
- How much you intend to grow?
- Which sectors would you like to expand operations with this ‘brand name’?
- Which all are the geographical regions you would like to conquer with the ‘brand name’?
- Which category of people do you want your brand to influence?
In fact, one can only begin his strenuous quest for a stand-out, noticeable, world-renowned brand name when there is clarity about Purpose, Boundary, Target, Vision, Mission and Values and how well the chosen brand would reflect those aspects like a mirror would.
Then comes the anatomy of brand name:
- Personalized: Based on the founder’s name. E.g., Dell, Ford, Disney, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Dupont, Boeing, Harley Davidson, Ferrari.
- Descriptive: What a company is or what it does. E.g., Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, American Airlines, General Motors.
- Acronymic: Letters to shorten a previous title. E.g., LG, KFC, JBL, IBM, UPS, NASA, HSBC.
- Suggestive: Existing or new words that suggest the kind of business it does. E.g., Pinterest, eBay, Travelocity, Netflix, YouTube.
- Associative: Existing or new words with positive associations. E.g., Red Bull, Amazon, Sprint, Oracle.
- Non-English: Names based on words in foreign languages. E.g., LEGO, SAMSUNG.
- Abstract: Using phonetics to create new English-sounding words. E.g., Rolex, Xerox, Vivo, Hulu, Rado.
- Generic: Cartoon Network, Souq, Best Buy.
Only a few of the important characters in ‘Brand Name Anatomy’ are mentioned above. We have refrained from mentioning certain ‘Brand Name Anatomy’ aspects such as Neologisms, Geographical, Latinate, Rhyming, Haplologic, Onomatopoetic, Oxymoronic, Plosive. Having an understanding of the aspects of your ‘brand name’ that it should associate with can help you immensely towards a clear stream of thought. Those who find it difficult can always choose a name and then associate its identity to any one of the aspects above.
It is imperative that one should think about the logo only after deciding on the brand name. Many would have ‘preconceived notions’ on how their logos should look like in their mind. However, such notions would become a major obstacle in conceiving a brand name. So, you would do well getting rid of them.
You must also consider these aspects of the process:
1. VOICE CLARITY
Ensure that there is little to no botheration needed to spell your brand name over a telephonic conversation with anyone. Selecting brand names like Peice, Weird, Dipration, Quique and so on can result in unnecessary efforts and wastage of significant resources during branding and mass communication exercise. There is no denying the fact that such names can have a few benefits from the long-term perspective. But such names should preferably let anyone understand the spelling through repeated pronunciation. Take for instance Gogomine, Lipra, Roderlook, Log Teran, IDfix, Quickbin, Fixobiz among other names.
Like a magician who effortlessly flips the cards using the expertise of his fingers, a brand name should roll on the tip of your tongue. This makes it easier for patrons to share your brand name by word-of-mouth and makes it easier for you to share your brand with friends and potential customers.
2. SUBSTITUTES OR CHANCE OF REPLACEMENTS
Refer ‘Figure 1’ in detail to understand the number of substitutes/replacements a brand name can have and how they can cause further difficulties.
3. POSSIBILITIES FOR ‘MIS-READING’
Therapist Locator (The Rapist Locator), IT Scrap (It’s Crap), PEN Island (Penis Land), Ben Dover (Bendover), La Drape (Lad Rape) are perfect examples of misreading possibilities. To avoid such difficulties, you can share the ‘brand name’ among at least 10 of your close associates and ask them to spell it and send it as a voice message. You can also write the name on a piece of paper or text it to 10 people, asking them to pronounce it. If 3 or more people stagger in pronouncing the name, then, you should rethink. A good brand name should let you and others pass it easily. The only way you can do is to keep it simple and straightforward yet unique in conveying what your business is all about.
4. THE GOLDEN RULE OF ‘FIFTEEN’
On a general observation, we can understand that most of the ‘perfect brand names’ around us have 4 -8 letters in it. If you can always try to get a name which has a maximum of 8 letters. In extreme cases where you don’t have any chance of making a 4-8 letter brand name, always try to confine your ‘brand names’ to fifteen letters. Most new-age and upcoming social media platforms have restricted the usernames to fifteen letters. Twitter is a prime example. Alibaba, Amazon, Souq, Awok, Gearbest, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Sony, Canon, Coca-cola, Ferrari, Google, Intel, AudemarsPiguet, TAG Heuer, Patek Philippe, UlysseNardin, Omega are examples for 90% of world-class ‘brand names’ which have a unique specialty. They all have less than fifteen letters to their names. A shorter brand name always provides better visibility across all frontiers. A shorter name is always easy to remember, type and advertise. It can contribute towards reducing your marketing budgets anywhere from 10 – 20%.
5. IDEAL WORD COUNT
Always remember the common psychological trope that ‘Brand names’ with more than 2 ‘word counts’ are always harder to remember.
6. TRADEMARK SECURITY
There has to be a qualitative study conducted to explore how many countries could provide ‘Trade Mark Security’ as similar names in other countries can create difficulty during filing for ‘Trade Mark Security’ in those countries.
7. GEOGRAPHICAL BLOCK
‘Geographical Block’ can hamper future expansion plans for the brand. The Regional discrepancy can affect your business and could become detrimental during agitations, communal riots & insurgencies against a specific region or geography due to the reference of a particular geography or region in the ‘brand name’. We need to understand that the market psychology has evolved extensively from the days of American Express, Boston Scientific, Arizona Tile, Doha Bank, Bank of America, Peter England. It is always ideal to avoid unwanted risks.
8. LANGUAGE BARRIER
Names with religious influence along with names that are harder to understand for people from other dialects that create conceptual conflict among the patrons are extremely outdates as well as contextually inappropriate in recent times. Brand Names with linguistic limitations such as Matjar Online or AlHadaya Shop should not be chosen as they can cause conceptual as well as functional misunderstanding of the brand names leading to readability and recall issues among patrons who are not well versed with the Arabic language. The truth is that often such names can lead to unwanted issues revolving around a particular religion in several sensitive geographies and regions around the world. Instead, make a thoughtful effort to choose global brand names like AttomGifts.comor DearGifts.com.
9. RULE THE INTERNET
If available, always choose a ‘.COM’ domain name for your ‘brand name’. Do remember the fact that an error in judgment in this context cannot be rectified in the future. Unavailability of a ‘.COM’ domain for your ‘brand name’ is a sign of an ‘invisible competitor’ hiding in plain sight. If you have global ambitions for your brand with the intention to transcend regional limitations, always ensure you buy a ‘.COM’ domain name over any other regional extensions. A ‘.COM’ domain will have higher credibility and recollection in the regional market as well. Yet, domain names with ‘regional extensions’ would suffice if you aim to carry out operations locally.
Let’s use an example of the same. A basic assessment of ‘AdsFree.ae’ will provide us with basic information that the domain name is from the United Arab Emirates and the ‘brand’ operates out of UAE. But it is hard to relate domain names like AdsFree.jp, AdsFree.es and AdsFree.dk to any specific region. Limitations of our region-specific domain names are often widely exposed when we interact with stakeholders out of our region or while participating in international business conferences. Ensure you have a ‘.COM’ domain name with you in the inception itself to avoid embarrassment during such occasions.
10. SOCIAL MEDIA
See ‘Figure 2’. Remember what we mentioned earlier. If your intention is to build a ‘brand’, then you must achieve ‘Social Media Perfection’ too to secure your brand’s future. In the future, brand awards may elude those organizations that fail to achieve social media perfection. Further, the lack of social media perfection might also jeopardize your brand’s future on search engine platforms.
To ensure that our ‘brand name’ doesn’t cause any complications while we engage in processes like Brand tie-ups, Mergers, Acquisition and Takeovers in the future, try to follow the themes mentioned above. Groups involved in our organization’s brand audit (Brand Review, Brand Evaluation) will consider our ‘brand identity’. Most of the time, it is the first aspect evaluated. Shortcomings in it can cause difficulties in considering all other valid features.
NOTE: Finalize your brand name only after ensuring that the 10 brand name rules detailed here are in place. This article deals only with the most significant aspects of a ‘brand name choosing exercise’. There are several other aspects like logo creation, brand placement, etc which need to be carried out in order to make your brand name a successful brand with global recognition. We have not discussed those aspects here. So, it would be a good idea to consult an established brand management consultant before taking the leap into finding a ‘brand name’ for your venture.