Five Criteria of a Breakthrough Brand Name — a Smartbrief on Leadership

Selecting the right name is one of the
most important decisions you can make about developing a new product or
starting a new company. But instead of choosing a name based on just what you
like, consider the following five criteria of
good brand names. #1: a good brand name should be easy. The brand should be
easy to pronounce, easy to understand, easy to spell, easy to find. You want your
name to engender trust and be shareable, not to create uncertainty or confusion. Today’s customers are not going to spend their hard-earned money on products or
services that they just don’t understand, and they’re not going to spend their
precious time trying to figure out a name. #2: your brand name should
appeal to your core customers. A good brand name should be relevant and
compelling to its specific target audience. If you try to appeal to
everyone, you’ll probably end up with a kind of generic, unmemorable name, so be
clear about the type of person your brand is for — and who it’s not for — and
then decide on a name accordingly. For example a fun clever name might be a
real draw for creative people but would turn off more serious discriminating
customers. A good name should also position your brand. The name doesn’t
have to spell out your brand positioning or be a literal description of what you
offer. “Fast Shoes,” for example, would have been a boring name when Phil Knight
first started at Nike. But by naming his company after the mythical goddess of
strength, speed, and victory, Knight was suggesting what he was offering and its
unique value. Criteria #4: differentiate. This is related to the
last point about positioning. A good name should differentiate your brand from
competitors. Try not to use a common naming convention or a name that sounds
similar to other choices that your customers have. Most banks for example
use geographic cues in their name like Northeast Bank so that they’re
predictable and locatable, but Orange Bank is distinctive and conveys some
personality. Choose a name that stands out and is clearly memorable. And 5th,
adapt. A good brand name should be adaptable to different applications. Consider how your name will work when it’s spoken out loud, printed in text,
rendered in a logo or other visual treatments. Also be aware of how the name
translates into different regions or even languages if your business calls
for it. And finally think about how adaptable the name may be over time, if
you think there’s a chance you’ll expand your brand into new products or new
categories. Now in addition to these five criteria, there are also some very
practical considerations to keep in mind when selecting a name. For instance, it
should be available for trademark and the URL should be available as well. And these days, since your name will likely be used in social and mobile
applications, the shorter the name, the better. But don’t worry if some people
don’t like your name choice. Ten years ago, many people derided Apple’s choice of
the name iPad but look how well-known and established that brand name is today. And remember, whatever you choose, selecting a brand name is only the first
step. Then you must use it consistently and associate with a unique and valuable
experience. That’s how you create a breakthrough brand name.

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