For many years, people have talked about the importance of naming and branding for products and businesses. Many believe that these concepts are simple, and that all you need to do is simply “design a logo“ and the rest will take care of itself – But naming your brand shouldn’t come that easily.
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Businesses that rush into defining their brand often do not give enough consideration to the importance of having a distinguishable name to differentiate themselves in their market. If careful planning is not a part of the process for naming your brand, you will inevitably miss out on opportunities for consumers to recognize, recall, and connect with your brand.
It is our mission to ” educate the customer.” Part of this education process is helping our clients with the branding aspect of their products. In addition to building products that make the lives of consumers and professionals easier, it’s also imperative that a business’ offerings possess a powerful and recognizable name, and maintain a solid positive image to the public.
As a UX/UI designer, I help businesses develop products that are intuitive and enjoyable to use. As part of the design process, I take into account the business’ name and brand image so that I can differentiate their products from similar ones in the market.
The overall aesthetic of a digital product cannot be undervalued. After all, as consumers our first touchpoint with a brand or company is typically through visual advertising. In order for advertising to be effective, that first point of contact must serve as a first impression that is powerful, and can be easily recalled in the end consumers’ mind.
In this article, you’ll be presented with a step-by-step process for naming and branding your digital product that follows today’s industry best practices. Follow these steps to ensure that your initial interactions with potential customers is memorable, ensuring brand recall into the future.
How to Name Your Brand or Product
Step #1: Make a Brief
Your brand name should set your business apart from the rest of the market. You’ll want to do your best to ensure that your brand name is creative, and that it isn’t just a dull or generic title.
Developing a formal brief describing your business or product is paramount so that you, or the branding experts that you’re working with, have a concrete idea of where to start.
Your brief should consist of the following:
- Comprehensive questions addressing how people will use your application
- A description of your ideal user and target audience
- The goals of the product
- Competitive research
- A relevant color palette comprised of colors you feel would work for the brand, as well as colors that would not work
Step #2: Create a List
After you create a thorough brief of your product or business, you’ll want to read some valuable resources on the subject of naming brands and products.
One resource I personally recommend is The Name of the Beast: The process and Perils of Naming Products, Companies, and Brands.
While in the early stages of the naming process, it’s valuable to have a ” brainstorming session,” during which you come up with at least 25 names. During the brainstorm, throw out all kinds of names (that suit the subject of course), and give 10 minutes to each person on your team to write down relevant words that come to mind. Of course, not every name is going to get used, as we must reduce the list for duplicates and similarities. The point here is to think broad, and then narrow things down.
Step #3: Get Creative
Many of the major brands that we know of today have created their names using a variety of different, creative methods. You’ve probably heard of most of these brands, but did you know how they came up with their name?
- IKEA is an acronym. It stands for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd. Ingvar Kamprad grew Elmtaryd in Agunnaryd.
- NIKE is actually the name of the Greek goddess of victory.
- The founder of PEPSI actually coined the name “Pepsi” from the disease ‘Dyspepsia.’ It is a peptidase pepsin or a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins in the stomach.
- Levi Strauss and Adolf Dassler used their own names Levi’s and Adidas.
- Starbucks is composed of two words that have nothing to do with coffee.
The list goes on and on…
Technically, there really aren’t rules when it comes to trying to create a great brand name — you just need to be creative. A single word, especially if it rolls off the tongue, could easily be the first and only word you use for naming your brand.
Step #4: Filter the Dust
After you go through your master list and filter your list of potential names down to about five, the next step is to research each one.
Start with a simple Google search. Google allows you to start with a simple search to see if your brand name is already used or taken. If another business is already using your name, you’ll need to cross it off your list of potential names, and move on.
Also, be sure that your name doesn’t have any alternate meaning. There have been many times throughout history where there have been products that have been given a name, only for the owners to later realize that the name actually has another meaning in another language. Can you imagine how awful your brand could look if this were the case?
One funny example of this is the Nokia Lumia. Lumia means prostitute in Spanish, but Nokia didn’t think of that when they named their software. However, there can also be an advantage if there is a positive connotation to the word.
If you’re planning to use social media as a marketing option for your business, as you should, make sure you check the networks that are most important to your brand like Twitter and Facebook. It might be worth it to check other social accounts like Pinterest, Dribbble, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn as well.
Who.is allows you to see if your preferred domain is available for a particular name. If not, cross that name off your list. However, just because a .com isn’t available doesn’t mean you can’t use a .co, .im, .net, .io, .me, or other web suffix.
If you’re creating a mobile application, make sure your name is available in the iOS and Google Play stores in addition to the domain.
One practical way to filter the dust is to create a table with every possible name in one column, each mobile or app store in another column, and the potential domain in the last.
Search for each of these separately and make sure that there are no duplicates, different meanings for the words, etc. Rule each duplicate out as you do not want to confuse the brand name with someone else.
Also, be clear on the class of the business or service your brand is in. It might make sense if it’s commercial, but if it’s governmental, educational, or non-profit, that deeply can change the names you want to use.
After you create your list, you must have at least two options completely free, and you should choose the one that is closest to what you want. You can also play around with the name and the TLD of the domain.
For example, one app that I created is called UDressMe but sounds like You Dress Me. So what I did was use the last syllable of the name and made it the top-level domain: Udress.me – Now that you have your name the next steps are securing it.