You have a fantastic start-up idea. One that seemingly cracks an unsolvable problem. One that makes your heart pulse and brain tingle.
But you wait … and then wait some more. What’s holding you back? Surely not lack of motivation? Good, I thought not.
Well, if what you’re stuck on is choosing the right name, you’re in luck! Roger Best, the author of the popular Market-Based Management, offers five ways to create a brand name that is easy to remember and fits with your vision.
#1: Founder names
Examples: Dell, Ford and Hiscox
Putting your name on your business shows how much you believe in it, and how strongly you’re committed to it.
Pro: Suited to serious or professional industries: it shows ownership and may help develop trust quicker.
Con: For small businesses, your name becomes the business, so taking holidays and selling it could be tricky! Also it may lack personality and an obvious customer benefit.
Tip: Big brands often shorten to the last name: Micahel Dell, Henry Ford and Robert Hiscox. See if this works for you and whether the domain is available.
#2: Functional names
Examples: Copyblogger, Business Insider and We Buy Any Car
They are self-descriptive and often take a ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach.
Pro: They’re easy to understand and remember. There’s often an obvious customer benefit.
Con: The name can lack personality and may not arouse any curiosity.
Tip: Pick something which is unique and doesn’t already exist in an exact or closely related form.
#3: Invented names
Examples: Google, Squidoo and Trello
Completely made up: often fun, unusual and unique. Some resonate with us and some don’t.
Pro: Flexible for business changes and easier to get social media and domain names. You get a blank canvas to develop the brand.
Con: Sometimes tricky to remember. They often require more work and budget to convey what the business does.
Tip: For free ideas, try Wordoid. $250 will get you a cool pre-branded name at Stylate. And if you have bigger pockets, check out Brandbucket.
#4: Experimental names
Examples: Safari, Daily Burn and zen habits
Connect an associated experience or benefit with a brand. For example, discovery (Safari), fitness (Daily Burn) or simplicity (zen habits).
Pro: Easy to remember and can move a customer to a desirable experience.
Con: The business context is not always clear.
Tip: Have a clear idea of the customer problems you are trying to solve and the benefits they can gain by doing business with you.
#5: Evocative names
Examples: Basecamp, Amazon and Yahoo
Evocatively named brands evoke memories, emotions and feelings. Those feelings get unconsciously triggered every time you hear the brand. Pretty clever!
Pro: Associates strong positive images, sounds and feelings with a brand name.
Con: Sometimes tricky to get social media and domain names. Note always immediately obvious what the business does.
Tip: For uniqueness, you may like to combine with a functional name like Virgin Airlines.
Mix ‘n’ match and try the memory test
You may find you use a combination of the five types. For example, Rogers Removals uses a founder-functional mix, and Virgin Airlines uses both evocative and functional.
Once you have a name you are happy with, test it out! Mention it to friends and colleagues. Do they find it easy to remember? Are they asking you to repeat, or spell it?
Share your brand name ideas with us in the comments, and we’ll let you know what we think!