Five tips to help you nail your brand name


Let’s be honest, choosing the perfect name for your business is a daunting task. You feel the need to convey everything that makes it special within a seriously limited word count, it seems like every good idea you have is taken, and nothing feels quite ‘right.’

But don’t despair, we promise you’ll get there eventually (even if it’s just because there’s nothing like a launch deadline to spur you into action) and in the meantime, we have a few pointers to get you going…

Don’t get caught up in the detail

It might feel like any name you choose will never be worthy of what you’re selling, but in actual fact, as long as the name is unique and memorable, it doesn’t need to perfectly encapsulate what your business does. The connection comes once you’ve started to build brand equity and trust with your audience.

Take Amazon. There’s a name that meant relatively little at first (and certainly didn’t conjure up images of the futuristic juggernaut it’s grown into). In fact, Jeff Bezoz chose the name primarily because it started with the first letter of the alphabet as this was a time when business listings were alphabetized. Yet now you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t hear the name and instantly think of the online marketplace.

The key with Amazon’s name is it’s concise, simple and memorable; and the same can be said for Apple, Virgin and Nike.

The moral of the story is not to get caught up with the granular meaning and detail. Instead, jot down as many words as possible that pop into your head, even if they feel meaningless. Eventually, something will jump out and spark that life-changing idea.

Drop the ‘The’

Brand names that are prefixed with ‘The’ are commonplace, particularly in the world of small businesses. Budding entrepreneurs want to evoke a sense of individuality and singularity, so there’s a temptation to insert the article before the name. Yet you rarely see this strategy adopted by successful businesses such as Nike, Amazon, Walmart, Microsoft, Burger King and Facebook.

By prefixing your chosen name with ‘The’, you could inadvertently appear like you're trying to convince users that your business is one of a kind, which can come across as inauthentic. Plus, we also think names just sound better without ‘the’. Facebook is a great example of this. It's a single word: punchy and memorable. But many people don’t know that before the social media platform took off, it was originally named ‘The Face book’. It’s pretty clear now they made the right choice. So if ever there’s a sign to drop ‘the’ with confidence — we think this is it.

Futureproof your business

It makes sense to kick off naming brainstorms with ideas that clearly spell out what you do. But it’s worth heeding our note of caution on this point: part of success and growth is often evolution. And many profitable businesses end up expanding and diversifying; introducing new products or services that can make the original name at best— redundant, and at worst — totally confusing.

Your brand name needs to stand the test of time so it often pays to go with something a little more abstract or less literal. If you need any more convincing on this point, check out these enjoyable examples of names that clearly didn’t get the memo:

A good name should have the ability to flex and grow with you. So don’t be afraid to lean into the abstract and embrace the meaningful meaningless.

Don't forget the brand

While the name is an important launchpad for your business, your overall brand identity is about so much more than the one or two words you go by. If you’re deliberating over a few names, it can be really helpful to ask a designer to mock the options up as logos along with a colour palette.

At Function & Form, we see on a daily basis how design and imagery can really bring a concept or idea to life — and a business name is no different. What might have appeared uninspiring or a little bit ‘meh’ in a Word document might really pop when it’s brought to life through typography and visual cues. At this point, you might want to ask a wider circle of people what they think, and how they feel when they see the name as a logo. Getting instantaneous and honest reactions from people is a really valuable way of previewing how your business name might land in the real world, and what iterations might be needed to ensure it’s the best it can be when you’re ready to share it.

It's not all about creativity

Unfortunately, as with most things in life, there’s a certain amount of admin associated with choosing a brand or business name. But every now and again this can actually help with the final decision-making process.

Once you’ve whittled down your name options to one or two choices, it’s worth double-checking that the name(s) is:

  • Available
  • Free as a web domain
  • Not too similar to anything else (especially brands with negative associations)
  • Searchable
  • Doesn’t mean anything offensive in another language

Checking all of the above will ensure you can launch confident in the knowledge that your brand name is unique, strong, searchable and ultimately going to work with you to build your business, not fight against your future growth.