Branding Rule #1: Avoid Conjuring Up Images Of #2

portable toiletI came across a company name the other day and when I saw it, I truly had to do a double take. My point is not to embarrass anyone here, so I won’t reveal the actual name, but let’s suffice it to say that it conjured up images of baking diapers in an oven, quite literally. O – k-aay, I thought to myself. I’m picturing a lovely woman in a nice white chef’s hat and coat with oven mitts and a nasty tray of …oh, I can’t continue. With this image in my mind, I felt compelled to go to the site and see for myself what this product could possibly be.

As it turns out, this business offers is an array of newborn baby items like blankets, and stuffed animals, diapers (clean) and other items arranged and assembled to resemble a three-tiered cake. These so called “diaper cakes” are sold as gifts to give in honor of a new arrival in the family. That’s fine, and although I could see how they actually might be a nice idea for someone who has just had a baby, the name was so not nice. The name did however, do the trick in driving me to go to the site, but I doubt that it was for the reason that the owner had intended.

Your Name is the Cornerstone for all Marketing Efforts

Whether you are naming a product, a business or a blog, creating an effective brand name is the most important place to start in building a marketing strategy. Your name needs to say who you are, what you do, and capture the essence of your business in one simple word or two. It needs to evoke not only an understanding of what your business is, but it should create the feeling that you want to convey. Always be careful not to use something that might have a hidden or not-so-hidden meaning to a different segment of the population, otherwise it might draw in the wrong crowd for the wrong reasons.

Make Your Name Unique In The Searchable Marketplace

In the modern world of marketing, a brand name also needs to be unique enough so that it is searchable without thousands of other results coming up instead of your business. If your name is Susan and you sell cookies, logic might tell you your business name should be Susan’s Cookies, but in the web world, a name like that would be impossible to search.

Make Sure There’s A Primary Domain Available

Ideally you would want your domain to be: www.yourbrand.com. If that is not available, .net is the second choice. You should avoid names like yourbrandonline.com or yourbrandbabygifts.com. No one will remember that, even if the “root” word of your brand name is catchy. Keep it short and sweet.

Protect Your Name With A Trademark

Your brand name also should be able to be trademarked. It’s pretty quick and easy to do an initial trademark search online. If someone else has already trademarked it, then think of an alternative. If it’s in another industry completely, then you could still potentially trademark it, but the best names are ones that have little chance of being confused with another business or contested. Thinking outside of literal terms or making up a word can often lead to a clever and compelling name. Making connections to your brand story or making up words that play with the definition of what your business is can lead to finding memorable names that most often can easily be trademarked.

Naming For The Future

Think about not only what your business is now, but also the larger picture of what it could be in the future. Try not to be too specific to a particular product, when you might be expanding into other arenas that may pose a future branding problem. Kentucky Fried Chicken was faced with the dilemma that fried chicken is not as popular now as it was back in 1952 when the company was founded. People are now interested in more options, like grilled or roasted chicken and other menu items instead. This is why they needed to rebrand themselves as KFC, taking the focus off of “fried.” Sometimes rebranding can work, but most often it fails miserably, especially for established brands. Best to try to anticipate possible changes to your business model at the beginning, rather than facing a rebranding crisis later.

Don’t Fall For Trendiness

A name has to have some longevity and timelessness. Trendy names might seem like a good idea for today, but they won’t make any sense for tomorrow because they will be out of step and dated pretty quickly. It’s like a tattoo – it might look hip when you’re 20, but when your 70 year old body is sagging in unanticipated places, that skull and cross bones imprinted in your skin might not have the same appeal.

Know Who You Are

Coming up with a fresh and effective brand name is not an easy task. It takes creativity, understanding of the marketplace, some savvy use of language, an understanding of your brand as a whole, and even some intuition. It’s like naming a baby. Try to name your business to last a lifetime. (But if you are having trouble, you can always hire me to help ; )

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