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Make a brand name that sticks!

Was talking to @srijancse on naming & remembered this book I’d read on it. As more folks think of starting up this year, I hope this helps. Here’s the summary + thoughts on the book. My Name is Awesome - Alexandra Watkins.

This book has great stories/ examples, easy read too. Follow the SMILE approach when you think of brand names. SUGGESTIVE: Let it somewhat suggest what you are doing, but dont limit to a category. For example, be @amazon not BOOKSHOP. Both suggestive, but one is limited. (1/n)

MEANINGFUL: Make it resonate with your audience, dont name it after yourself unless you are the brand yourself. Eg: @BYJUS @khanacademy. Also, dont hesitate to make longer names, if it means it easily sticks in memory. (2/n)

IMAGERY: Is visually appealing. When people can picture your brand, it is likely to appeal. Think @goodreads , it tells you that you will find good things to read here, you picture those words right away.

LEGS: This is a great point, which I really stress on when people ask me on name suggestions. Give your brand some mileage to grow on. You should be able to lend your name to more products/services if you choose to do so. Like @Uber, @Olacabs,@FreshworksInc.

EMOTIONAL: If stats in the book are to be believed, people’s buying decisions are usually driven by emotions. So make sure to account for it, especially if you’re in ecomm. I really like PLUSH(). It plays with the emotion of being soft & not straining. While &me() is a great product(I have heard), I would never get the emotions they’re trying to convey. ( ( you go through this, quickly also do the SCRATCH test on the name. The seven deadly sins to avoid.

SPELLING CHALLENGED: Make sure if your user was to use Voice search, you could easily be found & dont look like a spelling mistake. Eg : Häagen-Dazs.

COPYCAT: Don’t directly copy your competition’s name, it will sound awkward and build no brand integrity. Eg: Pumba, Adibas (I know they’re not mainstream brands, but you get me.)

RESTRICTIVE: Dont limit yourself to a category. If you’re a health startup dont name yourself - healthsomething, nutritionsomething. Be cult. Cult can now be subcategories & not just gyms.

ANNOYING: Dont sound forced. Dont name yourself picturegram/whutsup/legbook. Just because it sounds like a popular brand, dont forget it also sounds like its made up.

TAME: Try not being flat and uninspired. This point I think comes to what you feel in the end, everyone’s taste on this will differ.

CURSE of KNOWLEDGE: Dont use words only insiders will understand, keep it fairly open. The brand should seem inviting not just for a small niche. Keep in mind, this might work if you see yourself building just for that group, however if you want to be known to the outsiders, make sure they get you.

HARD to PRONOUNCE: Dont name your company XOBNI because it makes you seem unapproachable & people generally dont want to be embarassed so never go to products that are hard to pronounce.

That is all :) Ofcourse lot of brands differ this & have been successful, biggest for me is @stratechery. So, if some brand name really sticks to you, go for it. If not, try this way!

Published 20 Apr 2021

Always looking for learning opportunities in product and life.
Vindhya C on Twitter