What makes a great business name?
A great company or product brand name is one that makes people stop in their tracks, even for just a few seconds, and think, “What’s that?” Because at that point you have interrupted a person’s natural attention filter that filters out anything deemed non-important or already known. Mediocre names are easily ignored because they “sound like everything else” in a given industry, but a great name short circuits this process of routine filtering and sets up the person encountering the brand to be engaged and ready to hear whatever message the brand is presenting. Many of the most powerful brand names are what we call evocative names, names that map to and support the positioning of a brand metaphorically, rather than literally and linearly.
What do new businesses commonly miss when crafting a business name?
The biggest mistake businesses typically make is to think that the name somehow has to either describe what the company or product does, or describe some key experiential attribute of the brand, such as “speed” or “flexibility.” After the company realizes that all such direct names are already in use in their (and every!) industry, their next step is usually a trip to the thesaurus to generate synonyms for “speed,” “flexibility,” or whatever their key brand attributes may be. When they realize those names are also all taken, they start creating mashups of word parts of these synonyms, until they have a name that they are able to trademark. Or they borrow from ancient or foreign languages and often mash up those as well. What they are left with is a name that may be technically “unique” and trademarkable, but that may be ugly to look at, difficult to pronounce, impossible to remember, and thus has zero brand value.
What is Zinzin’s top advice for new businesses when it comes to naming?
First, do a thorough analysis of the brand names of your competitors, like the Competitive Namescape we develop during our projects, to map out the territory of what’s already out there in your space and reveal how most of your competitors are blending in with each other instead of standing out. Next, only consider names that stand out from the competition, that look and sound good, are easy to pronounce, and, as a bonus provided by evocative names, have deep layers of meaning and history behind them, allowing you to tell a compelling story that will empower your brand marketing efforts for years to come. The name you choose should also be extensible, able to work with sub-branded products, for instance, or as a company name for whatever you may be doing in five or ten years, not just today.