We all know those iconic product names – the ones that speak for entire categories: Kleenex.™ Coke.™ Even Cronut,™ for those of you looking at more recent examples. Names are powerful, and while some entrepreneurs luck into great names, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of selecting the perfect name, one that conveys your unique attributes.
- Avoid sound-alikes. If you’re entering a category with some high-profile leaders, you’re better off avoiding confusion by selecting a name that is distinctly different. If you’re starting a delivery company, picking a name like YewPS not only begs for mixups, but it also sets you up for trade name infringement problems. Be unique!
- Use mnemonics. Yellowtail, the huge wine brand from Australia is the perfect example of a name that leverages mnemonics. Not only is the kangaroo on the label associated with the continent of origin, but the color coded labels also make it easy for consumers to pick up the variety they want from a sea of choices.
- Tell a story. Whether humble or grand, every company has a story to tell. Look at Ralph Lauren’s logo. The polo player tells the tale of privilege and cultural capital. The polo player’s inclusion in the logo associates the brand name with a desirable, iconic story, a story that translates to millions of dollars every year.
- Make it easy to spell. As more and more consumers turn to online resources to find products and companies, it becomes increasingly more important that prospective customers be able to spell your name. Choose a name that’s easy to spell, and you’re making your business easy to find.
- Make it easy to pronounce. If you can trust anyone on this point, you can trust me, Mike Michalowicz. My name is my brand, and since I’m kinda stuck with what my parents gave me, I’ve made light of it – including the pronunciation (mi-KAL-o-wits, in case you’re curious) everywhere I can.
- Embed a secret in your logo. Once you find the arrow in the FedEx logo, or the people holding chips in the Tostitos logo, you’ll find yourself showing your friends, and you’ll notice it every time you see a truck or a bag of chips. Giving your customers cool little secrets to share helps pull them in as marketers of your brand.
- Change the spelling. Now you want to be careful here, but a misspelled brand name CAN be the key to success. Krispy Kreme. Chick-Fil-A. Tumblr. Froot Loops. Liquid Plumr. The list could go on for miles. These names are memorable, partly because of their unconventional spelling. The caution here is that you not stray so far from the correct spelling that you make it hard for customers to find you.
- Make your name a verb. You know you’ve made it when people start using your brand name as a verb. You can Skype your friends. You Google something when you want to know the answer. Even if you use a different search engine, you know what it means to Google something. Category leaders with memorable names can end up standing for all the other companies in their field.
Of all the business decisions entrepreneurs face, selecting a name is one of the most important. Your company or product name is your brand, your identity, and your statement to the world. Make sure you select it wisely.