Great Brand Names: Seeing is Believing

Clients often ask me to help them come up with a catchy brand name for a new product or business. Creating cathy brand names – or rather crafting great brand names is hard work.

Usually we get together with a creative team and take half a day or so to do some serious brainstorming. You probably know the drill; such a meeting involves a lot of writing on post-it notes, looking up stuff in dictionaries and playing around with words and spelling. At the end of the day you typically end up with hundreds of different names.

Most of them suck, may are so-so, and a hand-full are potentially good. But how do we know which name is just right?

Often people use a checklist like this to deduce which name is the best:

  • Appropriateness – does the name fit the brand?
  • Distinction – is the name unique enough?
  • Length – isn’t the name too long (or too short?)
  • Easy spelling & pronunciation – is the name easy to write down / say out load?
  • Protectabilitty – can we register and protect the name?

It’s pretty easy to score alle the names on your shortlist. With semi-scientific accuracy you can facilitate your client’s decision-making process.

Of course, reality doesn’t really work that way. What happens most of the times is that the team will come up with one name that is perfect. You don’t need a checklist to know this, your guts will tell you. The problem is. The client – or whoever is in charge – may not see it this way. In fact; they usually won’t. Why?

The word ‘see’ is the operative here. Whilst you may be able to picture the new brand name proudly displayed in some well-designed typeface, a client probably cannot. You may need to help him a little.

Here’s what you do. Spend a little time on finding the proper lettering and show him the new brand name printed on a mock business card, product packaging or – if he’s working in real estate – have the name photoshopped in huge letters on top of a prominent building.

Not only will you flatter his ego, it will make the name stick. It may take a little effort but at least you won’t be boring yourself to death with stuff spelling or the appropriateness or wasting time trying to come up with a better name because your first suggestion didn’t stick.

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