Names hold a very special place in our culture, not just because we identify objects, people and abstract concepts through them but because we’ve come to inspire certain attitudes by simply using names. When it comes to brands, the impact is even more powerful.

In modern times, our names and surnames tend to be a very small part of our identity, that’s why we’re comfortable with nicknames, using just one of our given names or even changing our names. Brands have a much harder time doing that, as names identify them to their consumers and convey the confidence they may have earned from their users.

Picking a good names means picking not just a good identifier for your brand but a good way to, in time, convey your set of values and personality through it. Let’s find out what your brand name may say about you and whether it’s time to give it another go.

Short doesn’t equal memorable

Because we remember Bob better than Eustace, we tend to think we’ll also remember a brand name faster and for longer if we go for a short one. This is only partially true. Short names are indeed easier to remember, provided they’re also easy to understand.

This means that whatever name you go for, it should be easy to understand, easy to pronounce and easy to read – in other words, obvious. For instance, Dot is a very easy to remember and versatile brand name, D007, not so much. You won’t always be there to pronounce, read and provide people with the background for it so if you have to explain it- it’s not worth it. What’s more, adding numbers and symbols to your brand’s name can make you end up looking like a ’90s MIRC try-hard so I would suggest you stay as far away from them as possible.

Flowy vs punchy

While we’re on the topic of short names, it’s important to remember that the ratio of vowels to consonants in the word(s) you choose can have quite the impact on the expectations your brand’s name creates. This can mean you’ll have to put in extra effort to convey the right message.

For instance, consonant-rich words are stronger, tougher, edgier, whereas those heavier on the vowels have a more calming effect, are less in your face and are more welcoming. So if you want to make a strong impact, go for more consonants, if you want the name to flow easier pick a name that has more vowels. While this is true for both long and short names, the effect is much more visible in the short ones, as the longer ones tend to even out the two.

About branding

Setting expectations

As mentioned before, due to their structure and meaning, certain words set certain expectations. If you were introduced to a brand called zzz’s, you’d naturally expect them to sell something that either puts you to sleep or helps you sleep better. You’d never think it stood for Zeke’s Zipping Zippers, would you?  (Disclaimer: The example is completely random and in no way relates to an existing business)

It gets even trickier when it comes to name associations. The number of syllables in each word, the vowel to consonant ratio and potential rhyme impose a certain rhythm, in pronunciation as well as writing. This rhythm then conveys a state of mind. Chipper, familiar and fun Zeke’s Zipping Zippers would then look a lot like a small, mom and pop shop, with a very vintage ’60s-’70s look, selling zippers crafted following great-grandpa Zeke’s old-school technique. We just got 7 brand attributes from the name alone.

Made-up or fowled-up

When you run out of common nouns and common noun associations in your native language, one tends to get creative. Sometimes creative means picking a word that is related to the core business and scouring the internet for great-sounding words in (insert dead language). While calling your interior design business Kíimak ‘oolal (the Mayan word for welcome) will definitely individualise your brand and provide a delightful first glance at its personality, unless you’re targeting a very specific audience that will get it, people won’t know how to read it, write it or search for it online and there goes all that money you’re investing in PPC and branding.

A great way of creating individualism and increasing the chances of your brand name being unique is by merging two words into a brand new, uncommon noun. While difficult to pull off from a creative standpoint without it coming off as the bastard child of two illiterates playing scrabble, it’s a great way to mix words that relate to the business, picked and prodded in a way that phonetically conveys a desired state of mind. And it doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be easy to read and spell, sound great and allow you to make sense of it through visuals and a great brand story.

The Bottom Line

What you call your brand impacts a lot more than your business cards, website domain and email addresses. Names convey meanings, feelings and are the point where you begin to tell your brand story so make sure that what it sounds, reads, spells and means is the pretty bow that neatly ties up your branding and the brand’s story, so choose wisely.

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