This post discusses what branding is, its importance and looks at ways of creating your own unique brand name for your company or product.
What is a brand and why is it important?
I’m sure many of you have a good idea of what a brand is, but let’s start with a definition:
“Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors.”
In other words, effective branding communicates a clear, identifiable representation of a product or company. 99% of all things we consume are branded. Branding means everything in the modern world, and this trend isn’t about to change any time soon.
Brands are becoming increasingly important with so many different companies creating such similar products that it can be hard to get noticed by consumers. A strong brand gives something your customers can associate with and can help build loyalty and drive future sales.
“Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind. Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value.” – BusinessDictionary
What are you branding?
You first need to look at if you are branding a company or a product.
Company brand names can be more broad and less specific, but try to stick to your industry where possible to avoid confusion. Product brand names should be specific to the product at hand as not to confuse consumers. A great article on the difference between bad and good branding can be found here.
Our Company Brand
‘Mental Block Gaming’
Our Product Brands
‘There is no Learning Curve’ – A highly challenging puzzle game
‘Templars of Hyrule’ – A Zelda based adventure game
‘E4R7H’ – A space based adventure game
Who are your customers?
Before jumping into making your own brand, there is another thing you should consider: the industry you are going to be part of. It’s important that you and your brand meet the expectations of your customers or clients.
For example, if you are part of a serious industry like healthcare, law or funeral services, your brand should reflect that. After all, no one would want a lawyer from ‘Bob’s your uncle offices’. The tone of the name of your product or company should be informed by the target industry. In the video game industry, however, companies can afford to adopt names with more comedic value, which can help make your brand more memorable in a crowded market.
Creating your own brand
Ok, now we’ve covered the easy part, it’s time to roll your sleeves up and start building your own brand.
Define your brand
As we’ve previously mentioned, keep in mind the kind of brand you want to portray before you start mapping name ideas. Do you want to be serious, funny, bizarre?
Brainstorm key words
Start by writing a list of all things associated with your company or product. Think of everything you possibly can! Even if you think it sounds bad, write it down as it might serve as inspiration for a new cluster of name ideas you’ve not yet considered. Once you run out, head to an online thesaurus and start looking for alternative words for the ones you already have. You can even find synonyms for those words!
Other things you might consider are foreign words with the same meaning. For example, the German word ‘Uber’ can be translated as super. J’adore (‘I love’) might sit nicely as the name for a dating website. Similarly, Sprung (‘bounce’) might work for a pogo stick company. Greek or Latin terms could also broaden your mindset and help you get ideas flowing. This suggestion does, however, come with a warning: Make sure you use trusted sources if using this approach! A bilingual dictionary such as WordReference often yields more accurate results than basic translation software. It’s another avenue for you to consider if you are really struggling to be unique, but I do stress again not to go too wild and to always get the translation checked! It would be awful for the meaning to be completely different than expected.
Using this process I would aim for about 40 words.
It’s worth noting that rushing this process can be extremely counterproductive. For me, this process normally lasts around a week and takes place over several brainstorming sessions. It allows me to consider different words that don’t immediately present themselves. Inspiration can strike at the strangest of times!
Creating an Actual Brand Name
Now that we have our list, it’s time to start creating a fitting name.
This is where we start taking the words we’ve created and playing with them to try and create something that fits your company and sounds unique and interesting.
You might find that a single word will sum up what you want to portray. This is fine, however we do have to remember that the chances of being able to get hold of a first level domain name (.com, .net or .org) like this might be nigh on impossible. So we should still try to keep our options open. If there are some really top notch single words that really do fit your niche bring them onto the potential name list as we might be able to play with these later down the line.
Start pairing your words together.
Several Words: Line several words up (try to keep it short, 3 words max). Mental Block Gaming, Blizzard Entertainment.
Combine: Simply combine them adding one to the end of the other. SnapChat, AirBnB.
Mix: Mix the words together, something with a similar sound could replace one part of the word. Slanket, Tapulous.
Play on words: Sometime you can make a play on a saying by twisting the words: WhatsApp (Whats up), E4R7H.
Your brand name could be a strangely spelt unique word (e.g. Trello). Personally I would try to avoid this as building a memorable brand associated with a strange word can be very difficult and costly in both time and money.
Your brand could be a word or random object, that is not associated with your industry. Companies like Apple (tech) and more recently Uber (transport) have been able to do this but again it can take considerable amounts time (and money) to securely place a brand like this in the market.
I’d aim for about 15-20 potential names.
Now we can start to refine the names. At this point you will have a large list of names, some great, some not so great. This is where you (and your team) need to sit down and try to come up with a short list of about 10 names that could actually become your brand name.
This process can be hard and slow but is fundamentally important. Having a large enough number of names to try makes it easier to land a .com domain.
The Domain Name Crunch
Once this has been finalised we come to the painful part. Checking which of those names we can actually find a .com domain name for. At this point you will lose 90% of your beloved brand names. There are billions of people in the world with very similar ideas so finding that unique name can be a challenge.
I use heart internet to do all my domain searches. I buy my domain names through these guys and have never had any issues. Please be aware that some companies have previously be accused of aggressively buying domain names days (even just hours) after searches have been conducted for them so be careful who you use and try not to wait to long. (Reference 1, Reference 2)
Those names that are available as a .com will automatically enrol as your finalists. If you have made to this part with more than three, you are either very creative, have an untapped market or are just very lucky. (Hey! We make our own luck around here!)
There is one final tip you can try if you have a name you truly love but is unavailable: playing with the spelling. Dropping a letter might allow you to grasp that vital .com domain. A new modern standard of misspelt brand names has come about which could even be classed as a current trend. Take a look at the likes of Tumblr, Selz, Flikr, Dribbble. I always recommend trying to get the correctly spelt name first, then failing that play on the word(s). Try not to alter the spelling too much otherwise it might become hard to read (and spell).
Please be careful when using similar names of other companies in the same field as you, since you could end up with legal issues. Provided a company with a similar name is working in a different industry you should be safe. Just be careful!
Congratulations. You’ve come a long way! There is light at the end of the tunnel. Any names that make it through the domain name process can be classed as your finalists. Now all you need to do is settle on one. At this point it is worth checking if your name is available on Facebook and Twitter as this may sway your final decision.
Here were our finalists:
- Mental Block Gaming – Mental, puzzles; Block, minecraft
- Meinkraft – Has comedy value but overly reliant on minecraft (no room for expansion), also used all over the internet, and too German-sounding without any particular reasoning
- Bermuda Cube/Square – Mystery element, also Minecraft related
- Outside the Blox/Cube – Strong contender, but already taken
- Perplexstasy/Complexstasy – Could be mistaken for reference to the drug instead of euphoria
- Enigma Block – Alright name
- Destructive Reasoning – Destructive didn’t really fit
- Parabloxical Games – Spelling of Parabloxical is difficult
Please note that this process can take ten minutes, ten hours, ten days or more. This is a constantly evolving process that does require some real effort, time and focus to get a result. It is far harder to find a unique name that is memorable, relevant and downright awesome than you might think, but once you do it will really be worth it!