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How To Create Brand Names and Domain Names That Don’t Suck

How to Create Brand Names

What’s in a name?

I  inherited a strange surname in which I had no input due to being born into a certain family….and I then discovered that the schoolyard was sometimes unkind. Names surfaced like Bullarse, Bullshit and Bullfrog.

For many years I thought that it would have been better to have had a name like Smith, Brown or even Jones.

Maybe a bit boring but safe.

The journey to creating a brand name for a business start up or even a blog is also often painful. But due to a different reason. They aren’t inherited but have to be created. And thinking often hurts.

Name creation can be a convoluted caffeine addicted process where many coffee’s are consumed while brainstorming on a whiteboard in a fluoro lit boardroom. Sometimes additional inspiration is attempted and fueled by a few drinks in a bar. You then choose a name and you pop over to GoDaddy and find that the domain name is taken.

So it’s back to square one, or is it?

I have discovered that this often repeated frustration of “domain name block” does not have to stop you choosing a name that you love for that exciting start-up. That revelation came after receiving a certain email.

The 7 steps to an “awesome” brand name

It was few months ago and an email request to review a book arrived in my inbox. It was titled “Hello My Name is Awesome – How to Create Brand Names That Stick” by Alexandra Watkins the CEO and founder of “Eat My Words“. I loved the title and it resonated with me.

The “domain name block”

She also revealed a strategy that allows you to create a brand name and a domain name without hitting “domain name block”. That was a revelation. She cited a number of big companies that don’t have the exact match domain name. Tesla is TeslaMotors.com. Facebook started out as TheFacebook.com, and didn’t have the domain name Facebook.com until 2005.

She had me.

The importance of brand names (and lesser importance of domain names) have become raised in my consciousness. This is since discovering that a strange name on a crowded web was not a negative but a positive.

Names that stick

Since launching this blog I have discovered that a strange (or unforgettable name) that is matched with a logo or image that sticks (the personal brand was a funny caricature) can be a powerful brand awareness tactic that takes you from boring to memorable. You want a brand name with “Buzz”. You also need to get over the challenge of FOSO or “Fear of Standing Out”

On a social web with 1 billion websites you need all the help you can get! According to Alexandra’s book there is a process that is “awesome”. I also enlisted her services to create a new brand name for a business that I will be launching in a couple of months.

It was fun journey driven by a person with a touch of genius who has created brand names including Church of Cupcakes, Spoon Me and Boxbee.

1. Complete a creative brief

The creative brief is where it starts. A sticky name will need to capture the essence of your brand. To help you achieve that you will need to take some time to distil your thoughts about what your brand stands for into a creative brief.

It means you will have to answer some questions and complete some tasks. Here are some of those:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Sum it up in 140 characters or less
  • How do you want your brand to be positioned in the marketplace?
  • Who are the customers you want to reach?
  • List your competitors.
  • What are 5-12 adjectives that best describe the tone and personality of your brand?
  • List some words you may like to have in your new name.

These questions and more will be part of the creative process.

2. Brainstorm

There is a wrong way and a right way to brainstorm

Brainstorming with a group of people in a sterile boardroom is often a waste of time. The right way involves “just you”, a computer and a search engine!

Start with writing down all your name ideas, keep your creative brief handy and then leap online. Here are some great websites that will help you come up that “awesome” name.

  • A thesaurus website and start putting in your keywords and look for synonyms and related words
  • Supercharge ypour imagination with an images site usch as images.google.com and find more inspiration
  • Comb through glossaries of terms
  • Checkout dictionairies sites like freedictionary.com or urbandictionary.com
  • Go “Google storming” and be surprised!

These and other ideas from Alexandra’s book will will bring up related words and phrases that will inspire your creative side. After this activity you could have 100 names in a big list.

3. Review the Names

Reviewing your names can be a fruitless exercise like traditional brainstorming. Alexandra has developed 12 rules and here are a few to get you going that can build consensus.

Rule 1: Have people review independently as opposed to a group. This allows people to choose without judgement.

Rule 2: Ask…”Is that name right” not “Do I like it”

Rule 3: Refrain from negative comments

Rule 4: A name can’t say everything but may only hint at what your brand stands for

Rule 5: Print the list on a piece of paper to review rather than view it online

These plus the other 7 rules she reveals in her book will all help you come to a decision that is both creative and captures the essence of your brand.

4. Make your top picks

After reviewing you will come up with a short list. I went through my  printed list of 100 and just reacted and ticked the ones that resonated with me without thinking too hard. I just wanted the “intuition gene” to kick in. I then had a shortlist.

That shortlist could be 20 names. This is a good number to ensure that you can take the next step of a quick trademark search.

5. Complete a quick trademark search

In layman’s terms a quick trademark screen will see if you can register and trademark the name. You may find that 12 or 15 or even all of them are taken. So you need a good sized shortlist to hand over to your Trademark screener

I used the very efficient Steve Price of Teserra Trademark Screening at www.tessera.bz  to check on my list.

Now if you want to get serious here are the next steps to protect that name.

6. Trademark the name

Once you have the report back then you can take the next step and start the Trademarking process. I used the very clever and efficient trademark attorney Lara Pearson of Brand Geek, This step involves a more in depth check to see that you can apply for the name with a high chance of succeeding with your trademark lodgement. This can take 3-6 months for formal acceptance.

 7. Create a logo and identity

Once you are 99% sure of success then you can engage the services of a a visual identity consultant also known as logo creation and brand creation.

Tracy Moon of Studio Moon was our awesome expert partner in the process of putting together a very cool logo and visual design portfolio.

What about you?

As they say “It takes a village to raise a child” and creating a brand name and visual identity in a digital world takes an awesome team. It has been a revealing journey that started with Alexandra Watkins of “Eat My Words”.

How was your naming process? Is it a personal brand or a corporate brand? Look forward to hearing about your brand name and domain name challenges.

 

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