That was until I came across a fabulous book: Hello, My Name is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick by Alexandra Watkins, a former award-winning advertising copywriter and the founder of naming agency Eat My Words.
Don’t get me wrong, finding the perfect name for your business still requires hard work, extensive research and considerable investment in time; however, this fantastic little book (it’s under 100 pages) delivers knowledge and insights which will allow anyone to come up with ‘awesome’ brand and product names, even those with limited creative skills.
The author is quick to emphasize that the naming process doesn’t require “scientific processes, linguistic voodoo or mangling the alphabet”.
What you need to do is find words that make an emotional connection, words that resonate with us. Fulfil these requirements and you’ll have a winning formula for revenue generation.
“The most powerful brand names connect with people and move them to buy because they are based on familiar words and concepts that they understand and appreciate.” ~ Alexandra Watkins
The above quote sums it up nicely and here are a few examples of brand names that fit the bill: Kryptonite Locks, Ninja Blender, Obsession Perfume.
Let’s add to that great list. Here are some of the brilliant names Alexandra’s company has come up with…
- Church of Cupcakes – Cupcake Shop
- Monkey Dunks – Gourmet Dips for Kids
- Simmering Samurai – Asian Entrees
- Jazzed – Dating Website
- The Bra Spa – Bra Boutique
- Smitten – Ice cream
- Bloody Married – Hotel wedding brunch (I love this one)
- Retriever – A GPS for pets
See how all the above examples are based on familiar words and concepts that make emotional connections? Clever isn’t it?
Another of the key lessons in the book: Don’t try to be clever when you’re coming up with ideas for brand names. Why? Because you’ll be spending most of your time trying to explain, spell, pronounce and, in many cases, apologizing for your name! (Names like Flickr, Speesees, Takkle and Xobni are perfect examples of what you don’t want!). The book’s author uses a simpler, more conceptual approach, without the need for complex linguistics that create unfamiliar words.
The brand names that resonate most with consumers are names that people actually get and like (see examples above). At the end of the day, we don’t want to feel clueless trying to decipher the meaning of a brand name (Any idea what the name ‘Speesees’ is trying to convey?) We want to feel clever at having ‘got’ the name!
Here’s a quick tip for making sure you’re on the right track…
By reading this book you’ll learn to objectively evaluate names using the author’s simple SMILE and SCRATCH test; a name should make you smile, not scratch your head!
So let’s start with the SMILE test, which outlines the five qualities of a super-sticky brand name.
Suggestive: Evokes something about your brand
Meaningful: Resonates with your audience
Imagery: Is visually evocative to aid in memory
Legs: Lends itself to a theme for extended mileage
Emotional: Moves people
On the other hand, the SCRATCH test allows you to identify the seven deadly sins which you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
Spelling Challenged: It looks like a typo
Copycat: Is similar to competitors’ names
Restrictive: Limits future growth potential
Annoying: Is forced or frustrates customers
Tame: the name is flat, descriptive or uninspired
Curse of Knowledge: Makes sense only to insiders
Hard to Pronounce: Is not obvious or is unapproachable
“Names that make us smile are infectious” #branding via @eatmywords – Tweet This
Once you’ve understood the theory behind creating meaningful and emotional brand names, you’re ready to begin the process of finding your ideal name. Thankfully, the author provides detailed instructions on how to go about this!
Starting with tips and strategies to find the perfect domain name (you really don’t need to obsess over the coveted ‘one word domain’) you’ll then move on to the critical step of putting together a creative brief, your brand name road map.
This creative brief will require you to find answers to key questions and complete various tasks including:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Sum it up in 140 characters or less.
- How do you want your brand to be positioned in the marketplace?
- Who are the customers you want to reach?
- List all your competitors (so you know what you are up against and to help you steer clear of similar names)
- Come up with 5 to 12 adjectives that best describe the tone and personality of your brand (Easier if you think of your brand as a person!)
- List some of the words you’d like to have in your name.
- List any words you wouldn’t want in your new name.
- List modifier words that will help you secure a domain name.
- List 5 brand names that you collectively like the style of (and why).
- Now the same, but for names that you dislike the style of.
To make the whole process easier, the book includes a sample creative brief to guide you through each step and includes example answers for each of the above questions and tasks.
With your creative brief safely under your belt, you’re ready for the most important part of the whole naming process: Becoming an idea machine through Brainstorming.
Forget the team meetings and whiteboards to come up with a list of valid candidates. In this key chapter of the book you’ll learn that the single most powerful brainstorming tool is the Internet.
With a computer and Google, you’ll start the creative process of finding your ideal name. It’s not a particularly complicated process – it’s all detailed and outlined for you – however, it will take time, effort and dedication!
You’d be amazed at the words you can find by using the Thesaurus, Movie titles, Book titles and iTunes (for song names). Simple but brilliant!
Once you’ve identified candidates for your brand names, Alexandra provides insight on how to review these names and create a shortlist which then has to go through a trademark search.
Coming up with a truly engaging and memorable name for your business isn’t rocket science; however, it does require hard work and dedication. The good news is that cash-strapped small businesses and startups can use the knowledge, ideas and instructions in this book to create a unique and awesome brand name which will help take their business to the next level.
My recommendation? Buy the book now! Believe me, you won’t regret it.