What’s in a name? A potential PR disaster.
On July 3rd, 2020, the Washington Redskins NFL team announced they were dropping the Redskins name and logo depicting a Native American man.
The name was 87 years old.
Previously, despite numerous complaints from the Native American community—since 1972—team owner Dan Synder was adamant that he would never change the Redskins name. What followed were the consequences of a regrettable branding decision:
- Investors worth $620 billion wrote to Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx demanding they cancel sponsorship deals with the team.
- Amazon, Walmart, and Target removed all Redskins merchandise from their websites.
- ESPN announced it would no longer use the Redskins logo.
- The Madden video game series announced the exclusion of the Redskins in Madden 21.
To the world, the Washington Redskins represented cultural insensitivity.
Without careful consideration, your name selection could be the foundation for future regret. However, your brand-building story doesn’t have to be a painful one. You can build a strong brand identity using the brand guidelines and steps we’ll look at.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Study your target audience
- Pick a brand position
- Draw a list of names
- Screen your list
- Design the right logo
Step 1: Study Your Target Audience
The buck starts with knowing your audience. Not everyone will resonate with your brand. The question is, who will listen to you? To answer this, you need a comprehensive understanding of your ideal buyer, which entails finding out:
What Are the Demographics?
These are statistical data related to your audience, like age, education, income, ethnicity, etc. Statistical data points your research towards deeper and more conclusive findings—the why.
For instance, demographic information may reveal your brand’s popularity with a specific age group. So the question becomes, why does one age group like your brand more?
What Are Their Interests?
Through interests, you get to understand the reason behind certain demographic tendencies. While certain interests are shared, different demographic groups often have different interests.
For example, people of the same ethnicity, profession, or age group (demographic) might have some shared interests but different political views, social engagements, hobbies, etc.
What Are Their Subcultures?
Subcultures give a deeper explanation of the different interests within a demographic group. Why does your brand’s popularity vary within one age group?
Subcultures are a result of shared experiences and lifestyles which can vary within a demographic group. This variation is the reason for the different interests within one demographic classification.
Take a look at your audience’s social media pages, online conversations, and search queries to understand these aspects, then draw a list of brand objectives. Ideally, you should go after the lowest-hanging fruit (the niche you’re most likely to appeal to).
The Wild Leaf Story
The Boston Beer Company (BBC) had a problem. Their new high-quality beer with fewer calories was losing customers. Twisted Tea—as it was previously called—was a popular drink among 21–24 year-olds. However, as they grew older, they tended to drink less Twisted Tea.
The problem wasn’t that these customers stopped drinking tea. As they grew older they developed new interests like healthy living, buying from sophisticated brands, and drinking more artisanal teas.
BBC studied their target audience and knew they needed to expand to accommodate them. For this reason, they decided to launch a new product alongside Twisted Tea.
Tasked with the job, NameStormers reviewed BBC’s target market and came up with Wild Leaf, a new, unique brand that symbolizes a healthy and artisanal product.
For the third year in a row, NameStormers was recognized as the top naming agency of 2021 by Clutch and The Manifest. This was a 1st place rank out of 100 other naming agencies and based on notable projects.
Step 2: Pick a Brand Position
Positioning your brand is a battle for the consumers’ minds—how they perceive your company’s mission and brand identity.
Every day, your customers are bombarded with advertising messages. In a day, Americans view between 4000–10,000 ads. Amid this advertising frenzy, your brand’s positioning is key.
Here’s how you can do it:
Positioning Based on Product Benefits
Cut to the chase.
With thousands of brands to choose from, communicating exactly what your product offers is a great way to speed up the buyer’s decision-making process. It’s a case of judging a company by its name, for instance:
-Coppertone NutraShield, for ultimate skin protection and natural repair.
Positioning Based on Price
Everyone loves a reasonably priced product. We are always looking for that great deal. In a generic market where products offer similar benefits, it may come down to price.
This was the case when Michael Dubin founded the Dollar Shave Club in 2011, a $1-a-month razor start-up. The brand identity here was affordability.
Positioning based on a solution
In this type of positioning, your brand’s focus is on a specific problem faced by either the target customers or the industry in general.
Due to environmental worries, freon (the cooling agent) was being removed from air conditioners. So, United Technologies’ Freon brand needed to adapt to this change. They didn’t want to completely rebrand, but they had to sound more environmentally friendly.
Their brand name changed to Puron.
With car emissions linked to cancers and other major illnesses, the automotive industry needed to make cleaner engines. Nissan came up with Leaf, a zero-emission automobile that’s safe for the environment. The positioning was specific to the emissions problem.
The Triple Flex-CholestOff Story
Pharmavite had a problem positioning its supplement brand. The industry was cluttered and noisy—with a plethora of generic brand names making it hard for customers to tell them apart.
Pharmavite needed a unique brand identity and a name that immediately conveyed exactly what was on offer (their positioning).
The first name from NameStormers was Triple Flex, because Pharmavite’s supplement contained 3 ingredients that improved flexibility. The second name was CholestOff for Pharmavite’s cholesterol supplement.
Both names were unique, memorable, and instantly conveyed the key product benefits. All the requirements for creating an excellent brand identity.
In 2021, NameStormers was the gold winner of the Hermes Creative Awards. This award was for their work in a similar naming project—Everheart System’s heart implant.
Step 3: Generate a List of Names According to Your Brand Positioning.
There are different types of names:
- Coined names (Oreo, Exxon)
These are invented words that may have no obvious dictionary meaning. They are easy to trademark but harder to market.
- Real-world names (The Voice, Postable)
These are names created from existing dictionary words. They are more descriptive but difficult to trademark. In most cases, they are either already in use or too generic to protect.
- Acronyms (IBM, 3M, AT&T)
These names are shorter, more memorable, and descriptive. However, some acronyms may appear forced when the letters are too jumbled up, making them less memorable.
- Individual or Place Names (Southwest Airlines, Hilton)
These are names adopted from famous people or places. They are memorable but can be difficult to protect since other businesses in the same location or people with the same name have a right to the name.
Tips for Domain Names
If you want to use .com, consider the following:
- Avoid using single, short words. They are almost always registered.
- Use 2 or 3 short words in combinations like fun-to-go.
- Coined words have a higher chance of being registered.
- Owning a domain name registration doesn’t mean owning a trademark. You still need to perform a trademark search.
Additionally, consider working with an award-winning naming agency. Expertise.com identified NameStormers as one of 2021’s best branding agencies.
Take a deep dive into the NameStormers portfolio to see how you can get the opportunity you deserve.
Step 4: Screen and Test Your List
Once the list is ready, screen it for potential problems.
Conduct a Trademark Search
This eliminates the likelihood of confusion with similar-sounding or matching brand names, for instance, Cisco vs. Sysco. In this case, both names sound similar but refer to companies in different industries.
Contact an attorney to conduct the trademark search and file the paperwork. Alternatively, you can work with a naming firm that will offer more services, like linguistic testing, profanity check, etc.
Work with a Focus Group
You can instantly tell a strong brand name from the reactions it gets.
Working with a focus group gives you a clear view of how your customers will perceive a brand name. For instance, can they pronounce it? Is the name appropriate? Are they able to spell it correctly? Is the name memorable?
Ask for a review of each name from the focus group with recommendations on how to improve them. Sometimes a little tweaking is all that’s needed.
Need some help?
NameStormers was the NYX Marcom Awards gold winner of 2021. The agency was tasked with developing a name for a new dental cat chew that spoke to veterinarians and pet owners.
Accordingly, NameStormers coined the name “IntelliDent”. The name communicates that the product is for dental health, and is the smartest choice for cats.
Step 5: Design the Right Logo for Your New Brand Identity
Consider working with a graphic designer for your brand’s logo design. In most cases, your logo is the first thing new customers will see and plays a huge part in building your brand identity.
Here are 7 different types of logos according to their design elements (brand assets).
|Abstract logo marks||
In 2021, NameStormers won the Golden Muse Award for their work with Virbac—an animal health pharmaceutical company. The project involved designing a logo that communicated quality and efficacy.
How NameStormers Can Help You Build a Successful Brand
For over 30 years, NameStormers has been the agency behind some of the most successful branding projects, like Hilton Tru, Brill Chantella, and NVIDIA Tegra. Their comprehensive process involves rigorous testing and fine-tuning to deliver exceptional results. Contact them today for your next branding project.