Naming a company or a product is a first step in branding, and it’s ridiculously easy to mess up. Company founders may have a favorite name, or they name the company after a product, a location, or themselves. However, be aware what is obvious to those closest to the company may not translate well to the general public or chosen market. Words are powerful, and can work against you as well as for you.
Whether you’re doing the naming, or are planning to hire a brand expert to assist, here’s our advice:
Research the name.
Doing research on competitors is a must. Search keywords to make sure your name is unique, and seek legal advice regarding trademarks. There’ll be confusion (and legal risks) if two companies have the same name, in the same market space. By being unique, you’ll avoid having to set customers straight just in order to be recognized.
Take the name for a test-drive.
Is your executive team too close to the name to see any pitfalls? Do outsiders “get it”? Will your market? Does the name sound right when spoken? Create a focus group to get opinions; you might discover misperceptions of what your company does. It’s better to make a change now, rather than defending a weird or confusing name down the road.
Should you have a tagline?
Taglines often come into play when the company name is mysterious or deliberately obfuscated. Adding a tagline “explains” what the company is all about. Hire a professional writer with expertise in branding and naming. Taglines should be catchy; stick with five or six words; no one will ever remember a longer one.
Commit to the name.
Practice “living into” your company name. By instilling confidence in the name at every opportunity, you continually define your profile, your ethos, your brand. Trends and market changes make it easy to lose focus. Making a deliberate choice to live into the company name keeps your branding on the right path now and into the future.