If your brand isn’t reaching the potential you think it should, perhaps it’s time for a brand audit. Specifically, take a long, hard look at the name of your brand. See if it suffers from one or more of these Five Fatal Flaws:
Flaw 1: Your brand has a boring, generic, descriptive name.
It blends in with a crowded field of weakly-named competitor brands. If you want people to notice, pay attention to, and care about your brand, you must not act out of fear. Don’t be ruled by FOSO (Fear of Standing Out) — be bold and unafraid!
Flaw 2: Your brand name is an invented mash-up with no meaning.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the semantic meaning of individual morphemes translates into real-world brand engagement. It doesn’t. Such names may technically (linguistically) have “meaning,” but, like snowflakes in a blizzard, they are not meaningful.
Flaw 3: Your brand name came from the thesaurus.
This is the route taken by nearly all companies who move beyond the boring, descriptive name and the incomprehensible mash-up. Unfortunately, it’s another excellent way to get lost in the crowd of boringly “appropriate” names. A thesaurus simply won’t yield the perfect experiential synonym for “advanced,” “intelligent,” or “powerful” that will lead to the perfect name. Ditch the thesaurus and delve deeper. A poetic metaphor that maps to your brand positioning will strengthen your brand identity into a powerful business asset.
Flaw 4: Your brand is shrouded in vacant, overused words like “solutions.”
A quick web search will confirm that you can find a solution for nearly every problem, except perhaps for the problem of having too many “solutions.” Other empty vessels include “network,” “business,” “business solutions,” and “leading provider” (“leading” anything, for that matter). Or the ultimate: “a leading provider of business solutions.” Google that last phrase, in quotes, and you’ll see that it shows millions of results. Don’t toss your beautiful needle into that haystack.
Flaw 5: Your brand name is different or extreme only for the sake of being different or extreme.
The most powerful names are those that best support their brand’s positioning, no matter what. Depending on the circumstances, a name might be “extreme” or it might not. If your name is trying too hard to be different just in order to stand out, it won’t. It will blend in with all the other names that try too hard and fail to stand out. This is a mistake frequently made by technology startups.
But then came Antimatter
Let’s briefly explore the story of a technology startup who got it right: Antimatter. Our client had the wisdom to avoid common naming traps, including the Five Fatal Flaws discussed above. Most importantly, their new name maps to their brand position in intriguing ways, which you can read about in Zinzin’s Antimatter case study.
This company, bold, lively, and confident, chose an evocative name that stands out from the crowd. It’s future-forward. It’s even fun. While the work they do is serious, our client understood the value of choosing a name that distinguishes itself from competitors and gets noticed.
For more on Antimatter and a unique Zinzin-dive into some insight and inspiration behind the name, check out our blog post, Tech Company Naming: Get Your SaaS in Gear.
The most important take-away
Never settle on a mediocre name for your brand. A great name can be a powerful force for business success. It’s as simple as that.
How do you find a great name?
If your brand name suffers from one or more of the Five Fatal Flaws, it’s likely time to explore a new one. But where do you start? Is it a project for your internal team? Or do you hire an agency?
While it is possible to create a great name from within, the process will require team-wide understanding of guidelines and possibilities, especially around naming and brainstorming. First, be aware of brainstorming blunders and brainstorming bright sides. You can read more about both in our blog post that explores the topic of groupthink brainstorming. And there’s a ton of great advice in our free PDF: Zinzin Naming Guide: The Art of Naming.
Another option, of course, is to hire a naming agency. This can feel like an overwhelming task in and of itself, so Zinzin put together this nifty resource: A Guide to Evaluating Naming Agencies.
Remember what Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said, which we reference in the agency evaluation Guide:
This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us — no company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want ’em to know about us.
Some parting thoughts
Your company or product brand name is vitally important. No amount of expensive marketing or advertising will win over potential customers, if they don’t first notice you. By definition, nobody will remember your brand if your name is forgettable. The goal should always be to stand out in this noisy world. But not just for the sake of “look at us” — the key is to stand out with purpose. That’s what the best brand names do for companies with the vision to embrace them.
A compendium of free naming tips and advice from Zinzin
You can find these resources (and much more) on our website: