What makes a killer business name?

Typographic business card designs and stamp

I went to school with a guy named Jackson Jackson. No joke. It’s funny, but it’s no joke.

At the time I thought is was weird, I guessed his parents were either stoners, super lazy, or thought it was funny to make a mockery of their very own spawn. Thinking about it now, in retrospect however, I actually think they ticked all the boxes… If perhaps their child was a business. Either way, they succeeded with a name that was thought-provoking, memorable, easy to spell, fun to say, and would actually look great as a logo.

Choosing a great brand name ain’t easy, but it sure is important. A brand name is how a company introduces itself, it is the very first impression. Here’s my checklist of 8 characteristics for a killer brand name:

    Your name should set the tone for your business, think about your brand positioning – will it be disruptive, intellectual, or timid? The company name should be culturally on cue and appropriate for your values and positioning. Avoid trends and cute puns that only you understand.
    Like the perfect al-dente pasta, your name should stick. Successful names have the sticky-factor enabling people to quickly bring your brand to mind when talking with friends.
    Great names are often short and sweet. Studies have shown that brevity lends itself to memorability.
    When brainstorming your business name, think outside the box – customers appreciate brave, risk-taking brands that forfeit the safe option to stand out from the competition.
    Potential customers need to be able to find it easily when they’re typing it into Google or their browser. Not everyone was the record holding spelling bee champion, so choosing a business name such as “Syforollayam” might not be the way to go. Coming up with something unique is great, but difficult spellings are a bad idea.
    For similar reasons above, don’t pick a name that is long-winded or confusing. If you need to explain your business name, you’ve failed to make an impact.
    Will people enjoy pronouncing it? Names that have a good “mouth-feel” like Google, Oreo, Yahoo, Ketchup and Kleenex, have a headstart on those that don’t. Invented or abstract names come with no preconceived ideas and are therefore a great blank canvas upon which you are able to paint a unique brand image.
    Research shows that words hold acoustic representations of their meaning by making our mouths feel a particular way. Brand names often take into consideration what is known as the “Bouba- Kiki Effect”. German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler conducted an experiment whereby he presented the following two images to his participants:
    He then asked, which one is called “baluba” and which one was called “takete”? The overwhelming majority of participants said the first was takete and the second was baluba. The correlation between sound, shape and meaning was obviously apparent.
    As a branding expert, of course I have to include the aesthetics! The letters that comprise your brand name must look distinctive. Some characters are round and full; others are narrow and slim. When thinking about the name in the context of a logo, it’s important that you marry the appropriate looking letters with your brand image and positioning.

When we brainstorm names for our clients we always start the process with identifying what you want your name to communicate. The name should, in part, reflect the company’s values and visions. 300,000 brand names are registered every year, its imperative that your business name makes you the talk of the town.

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