Choosing a Brand Name to Fit Your BusinessBy Laura Petrolino

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were named something else?

If I weren’t a Laura, but a Melissa? Or a Samantha? Would I do something else? Live some place new? Have a different life?

I can’t help but think I would.

And the same might be said when you are choosing a brand name.

Does Your Name Fit Your Goal?

My parents had quite the difficult time trying to name me. They debated back and forth for a long time worried about what characteristics a certain name would or would not provide.

I was almost an Elizabeth, but my father was worried that Elizabeth wouldn’t like to eat broccoli (Elizabeths out there, do you like broccoli?).

Thus I was named Laura, and I love broccoli. 

Laura also stands for honor and victory. This is something I remind myself anytime I feel defeated or want to give-up.

I know I can’t.

I’m not allowed to give-up because I’m Laura, it’s not what we do!

Choosing a brand name is much the same.

You need a name to fit your goals. One which represents what you want your company to be in the long term.

Entrepreneurs often think in the short-term—when it comes to choosing a brand name and otherwise. They don’t think long-range enough.

No doubt things happen and your company might pivot and change, but this is even more of a reason to focus on choosing a brand name with a farther reaching vision.

When you think long-range you are able to focus less on the “what” and more on the “why” of your business.

The “why” stays more stable over time, even through multiple business shifts.

A Brand Name Should Represents You

When I was in elementary school I was furious my parents had not named me Brandy.

I wanted to be a Brandy terribly badly and I couldn’t believe they were so cruel as to name me Laura instead.

Blah, Laura….what a boring name.

I even wrote a series of books called The Brandy Chronicles which detailed the awesome adventures I would have, had my name actually been Brandy.

Eventually I came to terms with my legal name and realized it actually did fit me much better than Brandy, after all.

Likewise, when choosing a brand name that name must fit the personality and values of your business.

It should help tell your story.

Who are you?

Are you a fun, trendy company? Chose a name that fits.

Are you a modern, high tech organization? Find a name that projects it.

Are you an awesome rockstar ninja? Choose Laura.

Chose a Brand Name Which Speaks to Your Customer

If you’ve done your market research and branding correctly, choosing a brand name that speaks to your customer should be the same thing as choosing a brand name which represents you.

Your brand should resonate with your customer, all of it—including your name.

Choosing a Brand Name: Questions to Ask

I’m sure almost any parent will tell you they put a lot of effort, worry, and thought into naming their children.

I know my parents looked at things such as if my initials spelled anything out, or if my name could be made into a nickname, and obviously the vegetable preferences of my namesake.

The same comprehensive evaluation must be done when choosing a brand name. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my name similar to other brand or organization names?
  • Is it easy to remember?
  • Could it be seen as offensive in anyway?
  • Will it resonate with my target audience?
  • Does it work online?
  • Does it work offline?
  • Does it mean something in a different language?
  • Will it go out of style (i.e. don’t choose a name that plays off of something trendy which might be forgotten and pointless down the line)?

Advice from the Crazies

And now, we turn the stage over to all of you. We no doubt have a lot of case studies of the good, the bad, and the really ugly when it comes to choosing a brand name.

  • What’s your best advice for someone choosing a brand name?
  • What mistakes have you made we can all learn from?
  • What questions should be asked when vetting a name?
  • How did you choose your own brand name?

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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