There’s a lot to consider when starting a new business. One of the very first challenges people encounter is deciding on a brand name – and, by extension, a domain name.
A brand name can make or break a business, so it’s a big decision and one that’s worth putting plenty of time, thought and research in to.
As a Forbes Agency Council article explains: “Picking the right name is crucial: it creates an image of the brand in the mind of potential customers, it shares the idea of what the company or service is about, and it’s the most important keyword for internet searches.”
The Brand Boy agrees, stressing the importance of not rushing in to picking a brand or domain name:
“Choosing a name may not seem like the biggest challenge your company faces, but the right name can influence buyers and become a staple of your company’s entire image. A name should never be chosen on a whim – it must be carefully planned and selected with purpose.”
If you find yourself stumbling at the first hurdle, consider some of the following approaches when brainstorming potential brand name ideas.
And take inspiration from some businesses – big and small – that got it spot on…
Choose a common phrase, saying or quote
The number one factor when settling on a brand name is making sure it sticks in the mind. The quirkiest name out there is absolutely no good if it’s instantly forgettable.
That’s why picking a well-known phrase, saying or quote can be a brilliant idea. Our brains often find it easier to remember whole phrases than individual words, especially ones that we were first exposed to in childhood.
Example: Look Mum No Hands!
This café/bar/bicycle workshop in Old Street, London, is a great example of a brand capitalising on a well-known saying.
The brand name doesn’t include the words ‘bike’ or ‘cycle’, yet you instantly know what the business is about, and what product and service it offers.
‘Look Mum No Hands!’ is unique, memorable and evokes a sense of nostalgia that appeals to customers looking for something out of the ordinary.
Experiment with spelling to create a non-dictionary word
Lots of brands have found success with creating a new word that’s not in the dictionary. Look at Deliveroo, Pinterest and Waze, to name just a few.
The easiest way of creating a new word is to experiment with the spelling of an existing word or words. Start by jotting down as many words as you can think of that relate to your business or product. Then try pairing certain ones together or tweaking the spelling to create something slightly different.
Inventing a new word as your brand name means you can own it outright, plus it can make it easier to secure a domain name and social media handles.
Did you know the Mexican street food chain, Wahaca, is named after Mexico’s foodie capital? ‘Wahaca’ is the phonetic spelling of ‘Oaxaca’. It works really well because it makes a Spanish word accessible to an English-speaking audience, while still giving a nod to the business’ heritage and authentic product offering.
Pick a pun
Puns can be a bit like marmite – people either love them or hate them. When done right, though, they’re clever, catchy and can make people laugh or smile.
Choosing a pun as a brand name is a great idea for a small business that doesn’t take itself too seriously and wants to showcase plenty of personality.
A play on words works especially well for companies that have physical premises. If someone pauses to ponder your shop sign, they’re more likely to step inside.
Example: Spruce Springclean
Here’s a pun that’s so bad it’s good. It’s humorous, clever and gives you a good indication of the services offered by the company (carpet and upholstery cleaning in this case).
The pun goes beyond the brand name and domain address, too. Visit the business’ website and you’ll see a ‘Call the boss!’ call to action next to their phone number. If you’re not a Bruce Springsteen fan, it might help to know that the singer’s nickname was ‘The Boss’.
Get the thesaurus out
The most obvious adjective used to describe your product or service isn’t always the best one for your brand name. That’s because our brains prefer the sound of some words over others.
According to Phonaesthetics – the study of beauty associated with the sounds of certain words – the most pleasant words have two or three syllables, short vowels and consonantal sounds like ‘l’, ‘s’ and ‘m’. None of these sounds require much effort to be pronounced and so evoke natural and peaceful feelings.
Water is usually described as ‘cold’ or ‘chilled’, but the combination of the ‘ll’ and the ‘y’ make the word ‘chilly’ more pleasing to the ear. It’s a cute, colloquial adjective, but still manages to convey the USP of these reusable water bottles – the fact they keep water ice-cold for up to 24 hours.
Select a word that’s got nothing to do with your business
In a crowded marketplace, it can pay to be different. After all, one of the biggest brands in the world is named after one of your five a day. Some say Steve Jobs had his ‘eureka’ moment while on a fruitarian diet.
According to reports, he settled on ‘Apple’ because he thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating”, and the fact it had nothing to do with computers made it stand out from the company’s competitors. If you want to follow suit, pick a word that’s short, simple, and part of everyday lexicon.
You’d be forgiven for thinking travel metasearch site KAYAK sold canoes rather than flights. But this global business hasn’t been hindered by its cryptic brand name.
Like ‘apple’, ‘kayak’ is a single syllable word that rolls off the tongue. And, as co-founder Paul English explained on Twitter, there really is no deeper meaning behind it: “We just really liked what the word KAYAK looked like, and how it sounded. It was that simple.”
Get the right domain for your brand
If you’ve decided on your ideal brand name, it’s time to get a domain name to match. Visit our domain name sales pages to search through thousands of domain options.
Words by: Samantha Shillabeer