Without brand elements like marketing collateral, tone of voice, design style and customer service, a name is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s only when all the pieces of the branding jigsaw are put together that you get a complete, coherent brand with meaning and value.
But how often do we stop and think about the reasoning or theory behind the name? Unless you’ve got all the time in the world, probably never. So, here we’ll run through a few things to think about before you decide on a name, elements like naming conventions, as well as some well-known brands and the less well-known stories behind their names.
The branding rebel
Naming is a crucial cog in your branding machine. It can help increase brand recognition, build loyalty and ultimately set you apart from the rest. Yet, unlike most visual elements, it can break the rules, be unconventional and go against the grain. The only fundamental rules are to be memorable and easy to pronounce. Of course, that’s open to change based on business and brief but broadly speaking, when it comes to naming, the world is your oyster. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy.
Just ask Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph: “Picking a name is incredibly difficult. For one thing, you need something catchy, something that rolls off the tongue and is easy to remember. One or two-syllable words are best.
“Too many syllables, too many letters, and you run the risk of people misspelling your website. Too few letters, and you risk forgetting the name.”
Change is good
While some start-ups or newly formed businesses will be entering the stage with an exciting blank canvas, for others, it will be as a circumstance of a strategic decision or organisational merger. But no matter how long you’ve been around, changing your name doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Just like your visual identity, there’ll be a time when you might be due an upgrade or a change of direction. That change is to be embraced and used as a platform.
Ever heard of Burbn, Backrub or Kibble? Probably not. Once upon a time, they were Instagram, Google and Netflix respectively. Yet despite their unconventional names they’ve become so commonplace that we don’t even think twice about their meaning or theory.
To be descriptive or not to be
When someone says ‘Moonpig’, we all know they’re talking about buying personalised greetings cards online. Yet the word itself is completely unrelated to its product and doesn’t even hint at a level of service or emotion.
Instead, Moonpig self-deprecatingly comes from founder Nick Jenkins’ childhood nickname. But when you break it down it ticks all the boxes of a good, if unconventional name. It’s punchy, fun, memorable, and above all unique in a search and domain sense; something that was so crucial to the business’ development and growth. In Moonpig’s case, their name benefits from being easily adaptable and represented visually, with obvious and clear potential for identity routes. Nick must be grateful for having such a large head during his youth after all.