Choosing a Brand Name – What You Need to Think About
Choosing a brand name or deciding on a name change for your business can feel like a mammoth task. Here are some ways to make that easier.
Whether you’re just starting your business, or considering a name change if you’re pivoting your business or changing completely, choosing names can be hard.
It will be a bit different depending on the type of business you are starting. Starting to sell your creations at market fairs gives more leeway than a start-up that will require large investment up front, so that’s the first thing to think about.
Either way, although brand names are of course important, don’t let it be a stumbling block to getting started. Here are some things to think about.
Getting started with choosing a brand name
What type of brand/business do you have or want?
How you name your business is going to depend on a few factors. The first thing I’d think about is who you’re speaking to and where you see yourself heading. What’s the vision?
Where do you sit for each of these?
FREELANCER or SMALL BUSINESS
PRODUCT or SERVICE
BUSINESS (B2B) or CONSUMER (B2C)
PERSONAL PASSION or BUILDING TO SELL LATER
For example, if you’re a freelancer providing a service to businesses and building your personal brand, using your name might be for the best.
Where as if you’re starting a small business selling products to consumer, and are thinking that one day you might pass over the reigns (or even if you want to keep it yourself!) then a brand name might make more sense.
What’s your vision and who are your audience?
What do you see in the future for your brand? Do a visualisation exercise, imagining yourself in 5 years, what does your business and life look like? Does that throw up anything in terms of naming your business now?
Then think about your audience. What do they need from you? You want them to be able to understand what you offer and resonate with the name of your brand.
Lean into your feelings
If you don’t love it, you’re not going to feel confident. Initially this may be ok to get going (see further points below) but ultimately, we can feel really stuck if we’re not confident enough to tell people about our business including our name. So how does it FEEL when you say your brand name out loud?
Imagine you’re introducing your business or yourself at an event. You have to get up and say ‘Hi my name is ‘so & so’ and my business is ‘YOUR BIZ NAME’ – how does it feel, what emotions come up?
Some things to remember if you’re feeling stuck
We don’t usually see names in isolation
It’s now usually rather unusual that we would see a brand or business name in isolation. Most of us won’t have a shop front that needs to grab people in, so you don’t just need your name to do all the heavy lifting. When you’re choosing your brand name, remember that you can also use your tagline, your messaging and your visual branding to support it.
Don’t let it hold you up
Names are important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not everything. Names can changed later on, and we tend to only notice change in a positive way as long as the changes are an improvement. So later on if a different name (or different branding) feels right, then as long as it resonates better with your audience, then it will be a positive thing.
A name is not forever, but give it the attention it deserves.
In the same breath as the point above, don’t think that the right name can’t have a great impact on your business, because it really can. A name that draws your audience in and connects with them can have a strong impact because you will be able to draw your ideal customers to you more easily, in the same way that getting your branding or messaging right can. This is especially true for more of a start-up model, where you’re going to want to choose carefully so that you don’t turn people off.
Check it with your audience but don’t take feedback too seriously
It’s so easy to put our name out there to a group of people who are maybe not our target audience and then take their comments on board in a way we shouldn’t. I think this can be really useful, so by all means but it out there, but remember that some people might not be in your audience and their answers might reflect that. This is why it’s important to do the work on what you really want for yourself and your business first.
Work out what your brand values are first
If you’re still feeling stuck, look at something else first. Your brand values are a great place to start because you can make quick wins by defining these.
I’ll be running a Brand Values challenge on the 17th Feb – 21st of feb to help you discover and define your brand values. Come and join!
A note on changing your business name if you’re already established as something else.
There are a few things I’d think about before coming up with new business name ideas. Get a pen and paper out to get your thoughts out.
– Why do you want to change it?
– What is the fear if you don’t change it?
– Are those reasons real or imagined?
– If you are changing direction, does your current name fit with the new direction of your business?
If people are telling you that it shouldn’t be changed, but you strongly feel it should, then you’re going to feel held back if you DON’T change it.
But equally if you don’t want to change it, maybe you can make it work by changing something else, such as your messaging or your visual branding.
Checklist for choosing a brand name
SO, if you’ve got a narrowed down list, check it against these points.
CONFUSION – Will this confuse your customers? If so, cross it out.
SPELLING – Will people be able to spell it? KraftyKats for example is going to get tricky. Ignore this point if you’re using your own name.
COMPETITORS – Is it not too similar to any competitors names?
HARD TO PRONOUNCE – not always a problem, again names can be tricky, so if you’re sure this is the right one, then just make sure you include a pronunciation somewhere.
DOUBLE-MEANING – could it have a negative double meaning. Names can mean two things as long as they are both things you WANT to say about your brand.
ORIGINAL – check that it’s original enough to use, you can sometimes use a name that’s already taken, but if they have trademarked it, you shouldn’t use it or if they have the domain, you might prefer to find something else. Often it will be fine if they’re in a different industry but avoid if they do anything similar to you.
If you’re a freelancer and you’re in doubt, go with your name.
If you’re a product business you could always start with your name with something at the end ‘Amanda Appiagyei Illustration & Design’ or start spitballing some ideas and see what you come up with, checking these points as you go.
OK fine, but how do I find a business name if I don’t want to use my own?
I’m writing a whole other blog post on this to help spark ideas. I’ll link it here soon, promise!