The Foolproof Name Creation Process For Conscious Founders
What’s the difference between naming children, and brand naming?
Naming children can be hard! And it gets harder the more children you have (and I only have three!). The naming journey often takes the full term of pondering and deliberation. We want so much for our kids. And setting them up with the right name that gives them every opportunity for success has so much weight.
Many founders launch without any where near the same vigor given to their brand name. And it comes back to haunt them in the form of slow sales, market confusion, or legal action.
While the right name can be like a rocket lifting you into the stratosphere, the wrong one can be a lead balloon.
Many people only seek professional naming advice too late. They get hit with a nasty cease and desist letter saying they’ve infringed on an existing trademark. At this point the money they saved by doing it themselves is long gone. As is the money spent on marketing the brand to this point, which now has to change.
Hindsight can be cruel. Setting up right is always best and saves you in the long run.
Whether you’re creating a new name for a brand new entity, or renaming a brand, this article is for you. There is a foolproof name creation process that we use. It will enable you to craft an ideal name that you can own, and save you from future legal issues.
You Gotta Build Your House Upon The Rock
A children’s song from my past says it best, ”…you gotta build your house upon the rock. Make a good foundation on a solid spot..” and while that song may be preachy, the idea is strong. For projects to stand the test of time, including brand names, you need a solid foundation.
What is a good foundation for branding projects?
Many things may change in your business. Even with pivots and product or service evolution, principles tend to remain firm. And naturally, we have a simple framework for developing a compelling brand story. This one is future proofed with the inclusion of impact, which you will soon come to understand (if you don’t yet).
The Impact Brand Story Triangle
There are three cornerstones to the triangle:
- understanding who you are as a brand
- understanding who you buyers are and who they need you to be
- And getting clear on your impact model
Let’s expand on those a little.
Brand – Understand who you are as a brand. And clearly articulate it.
Much of how your market comes to know your brand is through direct experiences. Meaning interactions with your team, your systems, and your product or service. If not direct, through the stories of other’s experiences.
It is from these encounters that the brand story for your brand emerges. You are telling a story, whether deliberate or left to the market to assemble.
These brand experiences are primarily dictated by the company culture. Brand purpose, shared vision, and values govern these experiences. So your culture is your brand.
If you want to have a brand worth raving about, you need to build a culture worth raving about.
Taking the time to develop each of your brand essentials. Also to design your ideal customer experience. Combined they will ensure a united brand story forms.
Buyer – Understand your best buyers and who they need you to be. You’ve got to know your audience, because it isn’t you.
When you understand who your best buyers are (you are not for everyone), you have an advantage. You know why they buy, how they buy, what their awareness levels are at each stage of their buyer journey. And what they need to see and hear to take the next step.
Knowing all this means you also know who they need you to be. First identify your juicy core customers. They are the most aligned, most profitable, and greatest pleasure to do business with. Then develop buyer personas for them and use them to guide your messaging.
Impact – An awesome product/service is no longer enough. It is the price of admission.
Here’s why. Another brand enters your space, same awesome quality, same fair price, same first rate customer service. AND this brand have cause they are working to solve, it’s relevant, it’s authentic, and it resonates for their customers (and yours!).
Now is a critical time where the people are looking to align with brands that care. Increasingly, as millennial’s grow as the economic decision makers in the market. By 2030 they will 75% of the workforce. All things being equal, the brand that does good too, will get the customer.
It’s not just the millennial age group. This is the millennial era. People, young and old, are voting with their dollars for brands that share their values. And who create positive change in the world.
Work with your team to identify a relevant impact model for your brand. Choose something that makes sense for your team and your customers. They will both become co-creators in the impact. We go deeper into impact models here.
Brand Story is the bridge, and the amplifier.
Your externally told brand story connects who you are as a brand with who your buyer needs you to be. The right message at the right time will help them fall in love with your brand and become a lifelong customer.
Your brand story connects your purpose, values and impact for your team. It unlocks creative and discretionary energy which makes them more productive and engaged. And they become invested as co-creators in the impact.
Similarly with your customers. Your brand story can connects them to your purpose values and impact. They too can become invested as co-creators of the impact and they fall deeper in love with your brand.
Can you see how powerful this brand story work is? It separates you from the rest of the market. Skip it at your own peril.
By doing this foundational work you get clear on the principles of the brand which are timeless. That’s despite the pivots or evolutionary steps you will make. Knowing these principles sets you up for the name creation process.
A name in itself cannot convey the entire story. It is near impossible to do that in only a few syllables. It must however, be capable of containing the whole brand story that you tell over the lifetime of the brand. The ten most valuable global brands teach us that your name to have a clear connection to your story. Here’s where doing the foundational work shines. Understanding the principles of your brand helps you focus on the strongest attributes.
Ideas Storming – Creative Name Development
This is the fun part! Time to let your creativity run wild. Explore all 1,2 or 3 syllable words for the attributes. Yes, you need to keep the name short and punchy, or the market will shorten it as a nickname.
The ideas you come up with need to be easy to say, sound good, be easy to spell and be memorable. And that is in every market you wish to enter. We have 7 keys to powerful brand names that can help you ensure yours is suitably awesome.
A word of warning. Do not get attached to any ideas you generate at this stage, or you will likely feel disappointment. We have been heartbroken many times! Wait until your IP lawyer gives you the all clear before you get attached.
While there are many naming conventions, we favour a few styles:
- Appropriation – Using the idea for one thing and apply it to another: Aquilo
- Evocative – Words that allude to distinct attributes of the brand: Tribe, Enth degree
- Combination – A mix of words and their meanings into one word: RedSeed, GoodNorth
How many ideas is enough – Global vs local naming?
The number of ideas you need can vary. It depends on whether you intend to trade locally, regionally, nationally or globally. At each step, your market is larger, as is the number of competitors vying for awesome names in the same pool.
Every increase in competition comes the potential for conflicts when freehold checking. The term freehold means it is available for you to register and own. We cover this further shortly.
Exhaust all your creative efforts to produce the greatest long list of options. From there you shortlist the most powerful. And those go through to the freehold checking.
For global names, depending on the number of markets you plan to trade in, you will need to start big. We like to explore 350-500 ideas for a long list. Then shortlist 50, to end up with 5 freehold options to present for clients.
Local names are less demanding. Start with 50-100 ideas in the long list, for a shortlist of 25, for 5 freehold options for clients.
During this process we like to explore taglines and URLs that work with the name. They can amplify the concept and connect with the brand story further.
The workload involved in each step for a global brand name is significantly more. This is due to the required increase in options and database checking. But if you intend to expand, this work upfront is critical. Many of our clients come to us when they have entered into a new market and encounter legal action. It is such a painful situation that we want to help you avoid.
Freehold name checking
Once you have your shortlist of awe inspiring name ideas, it is time to check for conflicts. This process will get you close to the finish line. But always consult with an IP lawyer before you make a final decision and start marketing.
It is important to note that this process can be quite time consuming. For each market you intend to trade in you will need to do the same thorough checking in their databases.
Search thoroughly the following:
- IP databases for the markets you wish to trade. You are looking for name conflicts in each of the trademark categories. It is important to search both image and words.
- Business name register for where you intend to register your business or company. You are looking for name availability.
- Domain name registrars. Look for domain availability and any potential conflicts.
- Social Media handles or profiles that could be problematic
- Key search engines in each market. Here you’re looking for conflicts, overly similar brands, or other potential issues. Include image search as some results can be derogatory, offensive, or confusing,
Remember, consult an IP lawyer for final approval before you start trading. They will have more knowledge about what potential conflicts for you.
Enjoy the challenge!
If you are attempting this yourself, have fun with the process. We love it! It’s one of our favourite creative problems to solve.
It is a real opportunity to push the creative envelope. A chance to create a distinction in the market. And position your brand to make an awesome first impression. Or fresh new impression if you are renaming. This is the ideal position of power to start from, to create a sustained positive impact.
Remember, the first step is to build your solid foundation. Start with your impact brand story fundamentals! They will give you the clarity for your idea storming directions.
Let us know how you go.
But, if you are renaming your business…
Clients often get in touch with us when they feel it is time to rename or rebrand. Often there is more going on beneath the surface than the need for a new name, or refresh of your brand. Take a look at what was happenening with Evan’s business here and how we helped him fall back in love with Mondays again.