You got to get your name right. It’s your first message design assignment and can cost you business if you get it wrong. The tagline and everything else related to the story behind your brand comes later. You get the name right — something memorable, something that rolls off the tongue — and effective marketing becomes much easier.
In 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business Naming expert, Phil Davis, refers to this process as a cornerstone decision. He says,
“Once [the cornerstone] is in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off.”
The same is true for your brand. Naming yourself is an assignment that every business faces in the beginning, and re-addresses later on if they get it wrong. Small and creative brands are no different.
Facing A Naming Fiasco? You’re In Good Company
Which sounds better? Mogulos or LiveStream?
Which is easier to say? Bayerische Motoren Werke or BMW?
Just as BMW, the car brand, discovered that their initials can go further in a global market, than their full German name; the co-founders of LiveStream figured out that their original name, Mogulus, wasn’t too great of an idea after all. In Your Start-Up Name Matters (A Lot) Andrew Maclean interviewed CEO and co-founder of LiveStream, Max Haot. Haot says,
“Nobody came and sat me down and said, ‘That name is stupid and you should change it.’ I think I woke up one Saturday and realized, ‘You know what? I don’t wanna be the CEO of Mogulus anymore. I want to be the CEO of a brand that is really impressing people.’”
The co-founders discovered that the bulk of their repeat business came from helping events live stream their programs. Now the brand has a name that describes what they do and it’s easy to remember.
Haot wanted something that felt “right.” Renaming themselves was a part of that process. Ultimately, Live Stream ended up with a name that also feels right to their audience — that’s always great for business.
Changing Your Name To Enhance Your Brand
While there are business owners that have a stroke of genius for most of us it takes a bit of brainstorming efforts to name ourselves. Al and Laura Ries, father/daughter authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding say
“In the long run a brand is nothing more than a name.”
Your name is the first message shared with your audience. And according to Al and Laura Ries it’s the last. Even if your products and style are different, you’ll still need the right name. It’s how your audience identifies you and how they tell others about you. In order to avoid forgettable or frightening name outcomes, do the work to make a fabulous message design decision up front.
Get The Name Game Right: Message Design 101
It’s time to play.
- First, make a quick list of the names rattling around in your head. Get them down on paper and free your mind for new ideas. Most companies and website brands need something short and descriptive like LiveStream.com, CopyBlogger.com and GrittyWriter.com. The words in these names let’s you know what the site is about, plus you can remember how to spell them without having to look twice.
- Keep your audience in mind as you name your company. You don’t want your future clients to waste their seconds trying to remember whether the “s” was replaced with a “z” or the “c” with a “k” and all types of funky things we like to do with spelling. When people search for your business name you want them to find you — the first time.
- Once you feel yourself getting close to a title that’ll work, sit on it for awhile. Go do something else for a few days. When you get back to your list you’ll have a fresh perspective. You’ll need that fresh eye to make sure the name still resonates with you. Here’s one final question: do you like how your name looks on paper, as well as how it feels when you — and others — say it out loud?
There’s a message in your brand name. Design that message on purpose. Design it to connect with your audience.
I wonder, how fabulous is your name? And if it’s not quite right, what are you willing to do about it?
Custom Illustration by David Michael Moore