Choosing just the right name for your organization, business or product is critical because it’s a key step toward differentiation, a succinct expression of your brand essence and the first impression people will make about your brand.
Of all the components of branding, from brand purpose to core values, naming is often the hardest, as more products and services enter an already busy marketplace and trademarking gets harder and harder.
Although there is a nearly infinite number of combinations of consonants and vowels, there are only so many good ones. That’s why we see so many pharma ads touting weird-sounding remedies for new medical conditions. It’s also why misspelling is no longer taboo. Lyft is an ingenious misspelling that elevates the slang term for “ride” into our modern vernacular by substituting a lesser-used vowel for the traditional “i.”
The best brand names are short, memorable, easy to pronounce and available for trademark. Increasingly, it’s the trademark conundrum that complicates the process.
There are only 45 trademark categories for all goods and services. Some categories combine seemingly disconnected industries—like medical, beauty and agricultural services. Sometimes a product must be registered in multiple categories, which raises the clearance hurdle even higher.
Many companies take a relaxed approach to trademarking but it’s a critical step in owning and protecting such an important brand asset. We’ve seen companies expand into global enterprises, only to discover that they have a trademark issue when they move into new territories. We’ve also seen companies trademark a perfectly good name, but neglect to protect it as it becomes the generic descriptor for an expanding product category.
If you’re considering a naming project, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. This includes:
It’s not as simple as grabbing a couple of team members, holing up in a conference room for an hour and brainstorming names that appeal to your spouse. You need outside support. And once that’s in place, the team responsible for naming will need to be:
Investing your time and resources in the right brand name really does matter. If your audience can’t spell it or pronounce it, you’ve got an expensive marketing challenge ahead. If it strikes an emotional connection to something familiar, you’re likely on to something worth celebrating.
If you are ready to explore new names for an organization, business or product, contact Jackson Spalding’s Brand Strategy Team. We’d love to apply our experience, creativity and research to find your perfect brand name.
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to reflect current naming practices.