7 Valuable Tips for Creating a Great Brand Name

A few months ago I’ve shared some tips on how to structure a creative brainstorm to develop good brand names. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from seven assignments I’ve done in the past.

Each case exemplifies a lesson I’ve learned that I would like to share with you. These practical lessons may prove useful should you ever be involved in brand name development yourself yourself.

Lesson 1: Uncover Skincare
Involve People Who Really Care

A few years ago dr. Jetske Ultee told us of her passion. She wanted to develop and launch a line of skincare products. Her product philosophy was both elegant and simple and driven by Jetske’s deep desire to make a better product than anything on the market.

Unlike many other brands Jetske’s product line does not contain any hazardous or superfluous ingredients and it contains exactly the right ingredients in the right concentrations. Nothing more. Nothing less.

From day one we involved Jetske in the entire proces in which we developed uncover skincare. I feel the name as well as all other elements of the uncover brand experience such as its packaging, website, customer care et cetera are all authentic expressions of the elegant simplicity of Jetske’s brand philosophy. The input Jetske gave us through the entire process proved invaluable. It’s really hard not to get positively infected by Jetske once she starts talking about skin care and her products.

Nothing beats having the knowledge and enthusiasm of a true brand champion. There’s no truer brand champion than one that has a cause.

Jetske Ultee has a cause.
She cares.

And it shows.

Lesson 2: Aafje
Looking Back may Help You Look Ahead

Two major care providers in the Netherlands merged into a single organization needed a single brand that would get that message across. The two organizations had only recently merged and originally offered slightly different (complementary) care services in a roughly overlapping geography.

The brand name could not be too strongly linked to either one of them rather it should reflect their union: it had to reflect their common future rather than their separate pasts.

Yet we ‘found’ Aafje in the past. Aafke Gesina van Hulst (Aafje is a diminutive form of Aafke) was one of the first women in the Netherlands to set up accessible small scale (medical) care.

Not only did Aafje’s story fit the story of the two organizations very well; the sound of the name Aafje and it’s direct associations (sympathetic, accessible, familiar and friendly) fit the brand’s positioning like a glove.

Lesson 3: P1 parking
Sometimes the First Thing that Comes to Mind is the Best Thing

One of the Netherlands largest parking facilities providers wanted us to develop a brand for their on- and off- street parking services. The name we came up with is as short as it is recognizable: P1.
With a hint at Formula 1 this brand name clearly tells you one thing: P1 should be top of mind of when you are looking for a place to park. It’s fast, friendly and hassle-free. We invested a lot of effort in the logo and colouring of the brand, to help distinguish P1 from the competition, make it stand out in the street and give it a accessible, mass appeal.

The Name Hurricane we organized resulted in tons of different names. And by tons, I mean hundreds. The brand name we went with however was the very first name on the purgelist. That’s right: the name was on the list we make before we do any ‘real’ brainstorming.

My lesson: do not be afraid to go for the first name on the list. Sometimes you need to create dozens of alternatives to tell you that the first name you came up with was the best.

Lesson 4: Selexyz
Develop a Complete Brand Experience

Branding and positioning may be one of the things I do during the day: at night I am Amazon Junkie and a book buying addict. I was nothing short of delighted when the Netherlands’ number 1 book retailer asked my company to help them further develop a single brand and positioning for their expanding chain of book stores.

We did not invent the name Selexyz; this part of the job was taken care of by our collegues at Globrands. From this starting point our team helped Selexyz develop the visual brand identify, its underlying story and translate it into the Selexyz-experience.

I think the shop that best exemplifies the Selexyz-experience can be found here. (click that link it’s amazing! According to the Guardian it’s the best bookshop in the world)

People may forget what you say or what you look like, they may even forget what you do, but they will never forget how you make them feel. Brand names sound a certain way, logos look a certain way, but it’s the whole brand experience that makes people feel a certain way. Having the right brand name is only a possible starting point.

Lesson 5: Evise (by Reed Elsevier)
Be Playfull with Words.

The world’s #1 academic and scientific publisher approached us to help them develop a brand name for a soon-to-be-launched online publishing service.

They had allready done a lot of work and compiled several exhaustive long lists of names. Some of which were pretty good, none of which had passed their rigorous testing. A lot of the names our client’s team had already come up with were functional and descriptive in nature.

Our time was very limited and we took a little different approach: we played around with the hundreds of words, phrases and ‘half-names’ already there. The resulting brand name came from playfull combination of a lot of words that ‘hoover’ around the domain this brand is covering: evidence, evident, vision, electronic, e-paper, wise, revise etc.

Lesson 6: equipe zorgbedrijven
Try Again and Again and Again

Equipe is a major privately owned health care provider in the Netherlands. Equipe delivers premium quality in a growing range of highly specialist medical niches.

At my previous company we developed equipe’s brand name in parallel with a strategic restructuring of the company and the brands it operates to serve different market niches.

Equipe is the parent brand behind several niche brands, each offering a specific specialism (plastic surgery, hand- and wrist surgery, dermatology et cetera). All these brands share and adhere equipe’s three key principles: health care should be made smarterbetter and friendlier.

Sounds pretty straightforward. Doesn’t it? The creative process was anything but straightforward. We had a lot of creative meetings: with different teams in different settings. Nothing seems to work. It took us a lot of effort and several tries – more than some of us may have liked – before we hit upon equipe.

The lesson here: creativity can be a painful process – even if you have to let go of the job for a while, take a break and do something different – but in the end perseverance always pays off.

Lesson 7: Re.Public
Register Early!

A major publisher in the Netherlands needed a brand name for a new magazine and its online activities. The brand would focus on civil servants. They already had a few names: none of which really stuck. During a preparatory meeting the name re.public sprung to mind.

During our next meeting the suggestion was received with great enthusiasm by the client and we happily started planning its further development and its launch strategy. Before the meeting however – and before the client’s formal okay – I had registered the appropriate domain name and initiated the legal procedure to register the brand name.

Within hours after this meeting I got a call from one of their two major competitors. A trademark lawyer casually informed if I was interested in selling the rights to the domain name to them. Needless to say, I politely declined.

Since I had used my home address and cell phone number during the registration they had no way of knowing I whom I was working for. Interestingly that very same night I got an e-mail from yet another competitor asking much the same question. News spreads fast – even if you don’t want it to.

More tips?

These seven examples and the seven lessons I’ve learned from them are a small sample of the work I’ve done at bransoncompany for a wide range of different clients. I hope you found my tips useful.

Perhaps you can apply some or all of them when you’re developing one of your own. Should you have any questions or need a little extra input: mail me or leave me a message below.

I’d be happy to help!

4 Replies to “7 Valuable Tips for Creating a Great Brand Name”

  1. Hi.
    I’m having a hard time coming up with a brand name for my organic skin n hair care business.
    I came up with DERMANE from derma&mane, but it’s already been taken. *depressed*.
    Pls help.

  2. Hi Jenny,

    the basic trick is to come up with lots of different names and variants. So start with the words hair, skin and nature and associate freely with those….keep writing words and new words that in turn are associated with those earlier words.

    Try to work with a pencil and paper and stay away from the computer – this will allow you to work much faster and in a more visual manner. Also the act of holding a pencil, the sound and feel of the paper and filling up all that white space with words are all conducive to great creative output.

    Try not to overanalyse before you write words down – just write. You can do the analysing, the selections of nice sounds names (or parts thereof) afterward.

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