Business Naming and Branding, The Whole Package!
If a brand is that awesome but its boring name gets it lost in the crowd, does it really count as being awesome?
Your business name is oftentimes the very first thing someone will see. Sure, then comes the logo and the colors and maybe a tagline or some eye-catching visuals, but the name is almost always going to be there when it comes to your brand. If that’s the case, it’s safe to say we can (and will) argue that it’s pretty damn important.
While your business name is at the forefront of your brand, it’s definitely not something you can decide on on a wimp. There are (or at least should be) processes and strategies that go into naming a business, and naming it good. And that’s exactly how we do it here at Bareknuckle.
Naming Your Business 101
Sure, if you want to go the easy route, there are options. Perhaps, the street you’re on and what you do could work as a business name: South Street Deli, Center Street Car Wash, Jefferson Chiropractic. The nickname of your area or of your state could be a way to go too: Windy City Party Store, Silver State Carpentry, Sin City Cigars.
You might find success by going the easy route, but what happens if you do and want to expand? Sin City Cigars probably isn’t the best business name when it comes to expanding to, let’s say, Phoenix or southern California. Going the easy route leaves little room for expanding your business.
So instead of the easy route, let’s go the good route, the business naming route that takes strategy and a plan.
Business Naming Strategy
Here at Bareknuckle, we start every branding project with the same conversation, whether the project is for logo design, brand messaging, business naming, or all of it. The questions we put together to lead this first successful conversation give our team all the input needed. It’s all focused around where you’re aiming to grow with your business, who you want to attract as an audience, and the personality, the perception of your business. With all of this information, we can strategize, plan, and build criteria for naming a brand.
The single most important part of this process is to take every personal bias out of the equation. Instead, naming a business should be focused around finding the best brand name for the business and the intended audience.
OK, so now let’s take it back a few steps and go through the full process we take when naming a business for a client. It goes like this:
- Define appropriate criteria for the name
- Build names that fit the criteria and define the how’s, who’s, and why’s of the name
- Research business names and the brand’s industry
- Present the top name recommendation(s) to the client
… And violá, you have a business name!
First and foremost, criteria must be named in order to name a brand. What this means for us is coming up with those must-haves that the name must entail, which are based on the themes, personality, and industry of the brand.
For example, let’s say we’re defining naming criteria for a long-time family ranch. The family and ranchers are starting a farm to fork, right to your door meat delivery service. Customers can purchase fresh beef on their website and have whatever cut they choose shipped right to their door.
After meeting with these clients, having that initial conversation with them, and really getting to know their personalities and what their business is going to do, we came up with the following naming criteria.
Naming Criteria For This Brand:
- Name should be simple and short, easy to remember
- It should give an idea what it is we do: Send cuts of our ranch-raised beef directly to consumers
- Should give an introduction into the story around our brand, whichever story that may be, all dependent on the name
The How’s, Who’s, and Why’s of the Name
After defining this crucial criteria, we could begin brainstorming potential brand names that fit into that criteria. As a team, we get together, bouncing ideas off of each other, throwing out silly names, edgy ones, hell-no ones, maybe ones, and hell-yes ones … it’s all part of the process.
Once we have a good idea of what we’re really going for and have a hat full of potential names, we shuffle through them all, putting aside the real potentials. Then we ask ourselves, “What are the how’s, who’s, and why’s of our best naming options?” If those how’s, who’s, and why’s make sense, tell a story, and fit appropriately into our naming criteria, they could make the cut.
For example, a frontrunner for our rancher brand was ‘Cattle Call’, and we defined this name’s how’s, who’s, and why’s as:
- The name is simple, catchy, and short
- With ‘Cattle Call’, we’d tell a story of the nostalgia of a family ranch through our messaging
- That feeling of visiting the family ranch every summer as a kid–the getting your boots dirty, calling cattle type of feeling
- Through this, we can tell the story of the family and their long-time and full-family dedication to the ranch
Each of these fit into our criteria, made sense for the brand (and for the brand’s audience), and was pretty darn good, if we do say so ourselves.
The name’s not ready for the client’s eyes quite yet. Before we knew if ‘Cattle Call’ was really a naming option for this brand, we had to do our research. The research we do that’s associated with naming a business generally goes something like this:
- Does the business name already exist?
- If it does, is that business in the same industry or taking over Google?
- If it does not already exist, is there another business in the same industry that’s named something too similar?
- Is the URL available? Are multiple URLs available that could be put to use for this brand?
- Does the trademark for this name exist?
If everything looks good on our end of the research, it passes the test! And then we leave it to the lawyers from there … we’re the professionals at naming businesses, they’re the professionals at law.
The Decision and the Recommendation
Like we said before, bias is OUT OF THE QUESTION! It’s not about what really tickles our fancy, it’s about what meets the criteria, will resonate (and stand out) to the audience, and will get people through your door, or to your website, or wherever you call your business home.
So here we are at the naming finish line, where our team presents the client with our top option(s). Sometimes we present two to four names and sometimes we feel so confidently about one that it’s got the golden ticket.
Our rule is, we will never present a name that we don’t feel fully confident is 100% right for a business, and we will never not present a name that we feel is fully right for your business either. This means that depending on what ideas and definite ‘yes’ options have come out of the naming process will depend how many names a client is presented. Sometimes there’s just only one right choice, and sometimes there are a few.
Can’t Make Up Your Mind?
Now that the client has been presented with their new business name, it’s time for some business owner decision making. Ultimately, it’s up to the owner, no matter how much research and strategy has been put into the naming process. It’s your business, and we get that.
That being said, we always give our professional (not personal) opinions and recommendations. But, sometimes, as business owners, we get too close to our brand to see it from an outside perspective, and it can be difficult to make an unbiased decision on a brand name. We’ve done this naming thing a time or two, so we’ve seen this scenario a time or two as well. If this happens to be the case, we have a recommendation: a survey.
Asking 10-20 people who aren’t associated with your brand directly and are outside of your close circle is a great way to gain some unbiased insight. The great thing about surveys like this are that you can give as much or as little information as is needed to get great first impression opinions.
A survey would go something like this:
- Develop a survey that can be sent to 10-20 participants
- Give some initial insight to your survey-takers: What the brand does, the general theme or personality, and any other important information that will be necessary in making sure participants know what’s up.
- Ask straightforward questions with multiple choice answers, something like this:
- Which of these names appeal to you the most?
- “Cattle Call” Thinking of this name overall, which of the following BEST describes your feelings about it?
- What do you or don’t you like about “Cattle Call”?
- Collect and your answers and get an overall consensus on what people think of your brand naming options and go from there
The survey process is very beneficial for getting some outside information and opinions from people who don’t know much about your brand and can therefore give honest and insightful feedback and first impressions.
Get a Brand Name, Go With the Naming Experts
So that’s how we do it. Business naming is one the single most important parts of the branding process, it’s a sure first impression of your brand. With a well-thought out name, one that’s backed by strategy, any brand can make a great first impression.
When you need the best team in the branding biz to strategize a business name for you, we’re the team to call. This naming process is the one we use every time, and for good reason, it works! Let’s kick off the process with a free 15-minute call with Bareknuckle’s best.