29 Jul

Naming a Brand

Naming a Brand

If you are, like me, don’t have an inheritance or a nest egg to see you through the rest of your life on this planet with your present level of creature comforts, it is a good idea to start a business. That is, if you haven’t started one already.  If you run a business or planning to start one, this blog post will answer the all important ‘how to name it’ question.

Many seasoned business persons don’t sweat over this issue (what kind of a name is Videocon; and who will sell washing machines and smartphones under that brand).  May be they are right, may be it all depends on the execution.  But then, you will name a brand only once; but if you get a great name, you will reap the benefits through out the life of the brand [I wish my parents knew this :-( ].  Hence, not taking the effort to come up with a proper name is sheer laziness.

Here is a set of filters you can use while finding a nice name for your brand.  All of them are simple.  All you have to do is sit in a quiet place and scribble down a bunch of names.  Don’t be scared if you have to come up hundreds of options.  Then you start rejecting the ones that don’t pass through these filters.  I am sure you will come up with a name that you and your children will be proud of.  No creativity required!


The brand name is the handle by which everyone comes to remember the brand. Some names are so generic, holding on to them is like grabbing an eel. A generic name easily slips from the mind. An unique name, on the other hand, is like an ergonomically designed handle. These are some of the unique sounding names that immediately come to my mind: 3M, RedBull, Minkle, Wipro and Tata.


If you have an unique name that is difficult to yell out loud, it is not going to stay in people’s mind. For example, who remembers Minnesota Minerals and Mining (3M‘s real name)? Vedanta is to regal, though it’s tougher on the tongue than Sterlite (which is more popular). GMR is more easy on the tongue than GVK. Coke is better than Coca cola. Accenture rolls on the tongue too (even though it is a bit too long, in the Business Consultancy business, it is one of the shortest names). Better still, can you come up with a name that people love to pronounce? Something that people use often just because they love the way it sounds, like Jack Nicholson?


If the name is longish, you are going to have a tough time while designing a logo. Moreover, with a long name, people are going to make up an acronym instead of using the proper name of your business/brand. And there is a very good chance that the acronym will sound horrible. Companies like 3M, Coke, Mac, Cat, GE, GM, IBM, etc. all had long names.  They are extremely lucky that their abbreviated names are unique and roll on the tongue. Not everyone gets that lucky.


Don’t pick name like Klassic or Classik. It’s too much of hassle to remember the spelling variation. All your customers searching for you in Google will land up at Classic Furniture, not Classik Furniture. By the way, Classik also fails the first filter (i.e. unique sounding). A name like Classik is worse than a name like, for example, Saravana Furniture!


If you have limitless advertisement budget, you can take a meaningless name like Accenture and spend cart loads of money to tell what you are doing. But if you are a small company or a start-up, the name of your business must describe what you do. Don’t name your business after God, founder, dog or other such irrelevant thing. It’s such a wasted opportunity. From this point of view, Coca Cola, General Motors, General Electrics, International Business Machine, FaceBook, Microsoft and Google are good choices. Pepsi, Saravanabhava, Sangeetha, Starbucks, Accenture and Minkle are bad.


Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is the reason why your customers are doing business with you. If only you can find a name that communicates your USP, you can compromise on few other requirements. Accenture is a name that subliminally communicates superior capabilities. Lexus communicates luxury. And what do you think is the winning entry: RedBull, of course! If you are looking for names that don’t communicate the USP, they are there everywhere: IBM, Microsoft, FaceBook, Saravana Stores, GRT…


If you can get the .COM domain of your name, without prefixes or suffixes, that is an wonderful advantage in itself.


I am not into numerology and I can’t tell you much about this filter. But if you believe in numerology, this won’t be a laughing matter for you.

By the way, there is also a 9th filter: Common Sense. Don’t forget it.

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