What Am I Supposed To Name My Brand?

The most important part of a name is what it represents.

A lot of weight is placed on a name. It is what gives identity, memory, and expectation.

At some point in every person’s life they are given a name, something to distinguish them and set them apart from others. Some names have deep meanings, other names are just something picked out of a book, but every person creates the meaning for themselves based on their character and actions.

Your brand is similar to a person in a lot of ways. It has character based on values, a personality based on experience and visual identity, and an underlying story that makes it what it is today.

Naming a brand or company can be difficult. How can a brand stand out when there already so many out there? How can you be creative yet have a name that is self-explanatory?

The experience of your brand is more important than the name.

You could have the coolest, slickest, most intuitive company name that has ever been created, but if someone’s experience or interaction with that brand is poor, the only thing they will remember is that your brand is equated with negative feelings.

A name is a representation of something deeper, a personality and a heart. A name is nothing by itself; it has to be supported by good experience, personality, and core values.

Once you’ve determined the kind of experience you want people to have and the character of your brand is set, you can start working on a name.

There are a few principles to naming a brand, but honestly this is the part where you can be as creative as you like. You can be obvious, descriptive, vague, or even make up a new word. The sky is the limit.

The important part of the name is what is associated with it.

Some Examples

  • Martin & Martin, Attorneys at Law. Simple, straightforward, and fairly obvious. You know the last names of the founders and that they are lawyers. Certainly you could wonder if they were tax attorneys, divorce attorneys, or some other variation, but it still gets the message across.
  • John Smith Graphic Design. This is better than “John Smith Design”, because there are innumerable kinds of design in the world, but it is still very vague. If you opt for this style of brand name, you must be incredibly curated and obvious when someone visits your website of the kind of work you do. People need to be able to remember what you do, not just the field you’re in.
  • Dropbox. A service where you “drop” files into a folder. It is playful, fun, original, and descriptive of what you’ll be doing. It also has a rich history of user experience, but that had to be built from scratch with the user in mind.
  • Uber. One of the most successful companies in the United States is a taxi-alternative service called Uber. Most people don’t know what the word means, but the brand has moved powerfully to equate “uber” with the concept of “taxi service without the taxi”. They took a word that meant nothing to a lot of people and, through experience, created meaning.
  • Everlane. To an outsider, this name has no meaning and makes no sense. Everlane isn’t even a word. To people who know the company, however, it means transparency, quality, and excellence. A clear example of a name without meaning having great meaning to those who know.

The more original or abstract your name, the harder you’ll need to work to build association between that name and what the brand is.

For example, if you name your company “Boxxlr”, you’ll need to work a little harder to let people to know you produce custom die-cut stickers. You have to market and provide a great experience for the audience and customer you have.

Do your research. Make sure that the name you’re choosing doesn’t already have a domain or trademark attached to it. For instance, there’s a tattoo artist named Corey Miller that dominates Google when I do a search for my own name.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you try to name your company “Dropboxxer” or “Microsoft”, be ready for the worst time of your life. Be original, do your research, and see what sticks.

Also consider the kind of social media presence you’re going to have. Does your brand name have domain availability? Is there an opening for that username on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or anywhere else you’d want to have connection with people? Spend a good amount of time checking out your options before you rest on a final decision.

One final thing: Give yourself a deadline and choose a name by that time. Find a name, choose it, and stick with it. It’s okay if it’s not the perfect name! The name matters less than what the name means.

If you’ve been sitting around for the last year trying to come up for the perfect name, you’re in a losing battle. I’ve seen too many people get caught up in naming their brand that they never actually start.

A name is absolutely important, but overthinking it will lead to procrastination and frustration.

If you spend the time detailing what the brand is about, write out the core values and mission statement, and define the underlying foundation of what the brand is, the name will come.

My name is Cory Miller. I am the host of a podcast called Behind the Brand, and I wrote a 40-page guide on establishing a successful brand foundation, just for you.

You can also find me on Twitter.

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