You know how cowboys and ranchers brand their livestock? They do it in order to identify their cattle. You don’t have to use a hot branding iron, but you should use a technique to differentiate your products and services from others. This can be a name, design or symbol – or maybe all three. Most important, however, is your company’s or product’s name. But how do you find the right one? Here are five steps to help you out:
1. Define your goal
When you brand your company or product, you want to create an image in your customers’ minds. You can try to do that with a lot of advertising, and of course, your service or product plays a major role in this process. But it all starts with a good name, one that comes with the right associations. So the first step is to define what those associations should be. Write down words that reflect the character of your brand; these can be nouns, verbs or adjectives that are central to your positioning. You should also clarify your branding strategy, for example, do your products also carry your company’s name (Volkswagen / VW Golf) or are they totally separate (P&G / Gillette)?
2. Get creative
Now it’s time for the creative work. Use brainstorming and associative techniques in order to come up with possible brand names. Start with the words you defined before and write down everything that comes to mind. Combine them or invent new words, whatever works for you. Keep in mind that there are different types of brand names. It could be your family name, a word that describes the product (geschenkidee.ch), a suggestive name that brings favorable associations to mind (Pinterest), an arbitrary name (Apple) or a coined name that has no meaning (Kodak). Choose three to five for your shortlist.
3. Evaluate your shortlist
Your shortlist is set, now it’s time to see if they meet your criteria. The name should fit your positioning and differentiate you from competitors. Does it sound good? Does it look good? Can people write, read and pronounce it well? Can they remember it? And maybe most importantly: does it evoke favorable associations? Ask your friends and family – or even better, your customers – what they think. And don’t forget to check whether it is still available as a trademark and a domain for your website.
4. Choose a name
Well... you’ve come this far, so choose the best one! If you think none of the names you came up with are good enough, you can enlist some extra support.
5. Register the name
As soon as you have made your decision, register the name as a trademark and reserve the domain immediately. Others might have the same idea as you! This actually happened in Zurich, where VIU and viu registered their company and product brands respectively just days apart from each other. As they are in totally different industries, this was possible. But you might not be so lucky, so get moving!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Katrin has a Master's Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. As a consultant, concept developer and copywriter, she has worked for various national and international clients from different industries. She owns ruby ag, an agency for branding, communications and design in Zurich where she works as a creative director.