Knowledge base
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Written by
Eilidh Dunsire
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August 19, 2020

A creative process for naming your new brand

Coming up with a worthy name for your new brand can feel an overwhelming task. Whether it’s a new business venture, start up, idea, project, side hustle, product, or social group – the right name is key.

I have worked through this process through years of personal and professional projects and have developed a workflow for generating a name which is a great fit for your idea.

Before digging into the workflow and formula, here are three rules I follow when generating a new brand name:

Three rules to follow for generating a great brand name:

1. It must be appropriate (to the idea’s narrative/personality: if the brand’s values are playful, the name should reflect this feel).  

2. It must be easy (to understand, pronounce, read, and most importantly: easy to remember).

3. It must be available (legally and online: does a company with the name already exist? Can you use your chosen name? Are your desired URL and usernames available?).

The perfect brand name in three steps:

So, how do you generate the perfect name? I’ve broken the process into three phases: groundwork, formulation and selection. There is a downloadable workbook coming soon to help you work through this process efficiently.

Step What? Do this
1. Groundwork Research, set the scene and generate ideas.
  • Research similar brands - list the names of at least 10 similar brands/companies (they could be competitors operating in the same space, opposite brands, or brands with similar values).
  • Brand personality statement - summarise your brand's personality into a sentence.
2. Formulation Lists, lists and more lists.
  • Build a word bank (word association) - what interesting terminology, words, history, facts, mythology, science or names are related to your idea? List all associated words.
  • Form potential names - generate 100+ potential names.
  • Shortlisting names - select the best 10 to 20 potential names.
3. Selection Select top candidates, availability checks and testing.
  • Ranking (refer to the three rules for a worthy brand name) - rate each shortlisted name on brand fit, appeal criteria, and availability (check available domain names and social profiles).
  • Review and testing - with look and feel design and market research.

1. Groundwork

Research, set the scene and generate ideas.
  • Research similar brands - list the names of at least 10 similar brands/companies (they could be competitors operating in the same space, opposite brands, or brands with similar values).
  • Brand personality statement - summarise your brand's personality into a sentence.
 

2. Formulation

Lists, lists and more lists.
  • Build a word bank (word association) - what interesting terminology, words, history, facts, mythology, science or names are related to your idea? List all associated words.
  • Form potential names - generate 100+ potential names.
  • Shortlisting names - select the best 10 to 20 potential names.
 

3. Selection

Select top candidates, availability checks and testing.
  • Ranking (refer to the three rules for a worthy brand name) - rate each shortlisted name on brand fit, appeal criteria, and availability (check available domain names and social profiles).
  • Review and testing - with look and feel design and market research.

Get the Brand Naming Workbook here!

References and recommended reading:

The five types of names (or, Why suggestive beats descriptive) - article by Nancy Friedman

The Purpose of a Brand Name Is to Play with Familiarity - article by Nancy Friedman

Brand Archetypes - article by Anthony Coombes

Brand Personality: Traits of Top Brands - article by Arek Dvornechuck

Branding in Five And A Half Steps - book by Michael Johnson

Tools and useful links:

Search Companies House for existing UK registered companies

US Corporate Registry Directory

Check domain and username availability on Namechk

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