How to come up with a brand name? It’s one of those difficult questions to answer like what typeface should my logo be or what colour? A lot of people turn to online brand name generators but algorithms aren’t known for their creativity. In this blog post I’ll give you tips on how to approach naming a new brand and some creative techniques to generate unique brand names for your business.
Do you need more help with brand name generation? We have a free copywriting course that illustrates five creative techniques you can use to generate unique brand names. We also offer a course that develops a targeted brand naming strategy.
Narrow your search
The first things to do to get a faster result is narrow down your options. Focus your search to areas that are right for your business. We want to define the type of name you are after.
How do you do that?
There are a few steps you can take before you start brainstorming names. Each step you take will get you closer to your goal and make it a bit easier to find a name. Get it right and you have a name that will create interest, invite action and maybe start telling your brand story even before you say another word.
Good news is you might have already taken a few of these steps.
Things to do before your start generating brand names
The work you do before you start generating names will make the task much easier and faster. It narrows the field and gives your search focus. Plus you have a great tool to assess the names you generate.
Your product truth
Start with a little soul-searching. What is at the core of your brand? Your brand was put on the planet to do what?
Let’s look at an example – Apple computers. Steve Jobs said, “We’re not about making boxes for people to get their job done” he continues, “At its core, Apple is about – we believe people with passion can change the world for the better.” It is not about RAM or bits per second. They summed that up as, “Think different.” That tagline could have easily come before they chose the name. It is their core purpose.
The best names are going to be born from a product truth, with a story that resonates with the people you are trying to connect with.
The name acts as a starting point in the conversation.
So ask yourself three things.
How will your brand change your customer’s life?
How will their lives be improved?
What solution does your brand provide?
Your customer challenge
Where do you sit with your customer?
Some brands will want to build an ongoing relationship while others brands are there to jump in and bail them out the customer from a tricky situation. This will affect your name choice. Are you connecting at an emotional level or do you just want to be more descriptive?
Brands you own, wear or live with you want to connect with at an emotional level to keep you coming back for more, if I have a problem that needs an immediate solution I might want a more descriptive name.
A product I use with my baby for instance, I will want to reflect my values, anything that is going to be in contact with my baby had better be aligned with my standards.
On the other hand, if I have an over-flowing toilet I am going to react in a totally different way.
So, ask yourself do I need a name that evokes an emotion or a description?
Your business challenge
The name is a marketing tool and depending where you are in that market will determine what kind of name you need.
Is your brand in a new niche? Do you need some educational element to the name?
Are you expanding a niche?
Do you want people to look at your brand from a different angle?
Are you entering a saturated market? Do you need a more disruptive name?
Do you want to change the image of your company – more youthful, modern, green? What challenge is facing your business and can the name help?
How do people talk?
Thinking about real people rather than just Facebook targeting profile really helps.
Paint a picture of your ideal customer. How do they look, what do they eat, where do they go?
Are they like your mother, your dad, brother, sister? With real people it is easier to imagine real behaviour and then the language they use. There might be a word that signals your brand belongs to them.
All this just paints a picture of the ideal name for your brand, the basis of a naming strategy. You’ll use this information to assess the names you generate.
Techniques to generate brand names
Okay, so now you know what you want the name to do. You’ve used the left part of your brain, your rational and analytical skills to narrow the areas you need to explore. Now it is time to start exercising the right part of your brain, the creative side. You won’t need to worry about writer’s block when you have a process.
Creativity is not so scary once you give it a process, it is just organised play really. A process that provides stimulation for your imagination. The good stuff is going to come from making random connections. You don’t want names that anyone can think of, you want to be unique.
If you can make the process of discovery fun and stimulating, the end result is much more likely to have the same characteristics. Just what you are after. Here a free course that has five creative techniques to generate brand names. The first one is outlined here.
The first technique is to play a word association game. This is much easier to do if you have another person or small group you can bounce ideas off.
Remember, there is no wrong answer. What you want is participation and positive energy. A game will generate that atmosphere for you. Write everything down.
To help you jump from one word to another try focusing on specific areas to begin with.
Words associated with the user – all the words that describe the person or group
Words associated with the benefit – what does it do, how does it make you feel
Words associated with the product – category words, actions, descriptions
Words associated with the use – what happens when you use it
Words associated with the occasion – sights, sounds, smells, emotions
Once you have a long list, start jamming the words together and see what you get. This is when spelling mistakes or using phonetic sounds might work for you, as you try to invent a new word or unique name.
Let’s say I have been asked to come up with a name for a baby soap. I know what it’s made from, why it’s good, who uses it, who buys it. A naming strategy will pinpoint all that for you but let’s dive right in.
What springs to mind?
Words associated with user
- Baby, toddler, nipper, infant, child, tot, bairn, tiny, honey, sweetie, darling, little one, sweetie pie
Words associated with benefit
- Clean, sweet, washed, scrubbed, spotless, pristine, pure, fresh, healthy, gentle, soft
Words associated with product
- Wash, shower, soak, bathe, sponge, scrub, douche, wipe, mop, rub, smooth, stroke, caress, towel
Words associated with use
- White, sparkling, bubbles, suds, bar, slippery, fizz, froth, lather, foam, cake
Words associated with occasion – sounds, smells, actions, emotions
- Bath time, squeaky clean, sparkle, glow, gurgle, giggle, laugh, wet, slippery, splish, splash, splosh
Now bash some words together
Take CHI from child and IGGLE from giggle and you get CHIGGLE – sounds fun
Take TOT and SOFT and you get SOFTOT – sounds unique but more like an airline than soap.
Take BUBB from bubbles and LISH from splish and you get BUBBLISH or BUBALISH
Combine splosh and wash to get WOSH or WISHWOSH from splish splosh
Sweetie Pie Soap sounds great – could we make the soap bar round, make it look like a pie and then give it yummy names – almonds and vanilla, sugarplum, honeysuckle
Just jamming words together and the ideas just start jumping off the page.
Once you know some techniques, how to name a brand is not so difficult. This is just one technique you can use. I have a FREE course that walks you through five creative techniques to generate brand names. Click here