Naming a business or product is never easy, there are so many things to be considered.  And it doesn’t always come easily.  Some may say it’s the difference between success and failure – the choice in name can make or break a business.  No pressure then.

In this article we explore why a brand name needs to stand out and how best to approach the process with your customer in mind.  We help you navigate the naming game with a handy checklist, whether you are a startup or going through a rebrand.


First impressions count

A company’s name is often the first element of your brand that your customer will come into contact with.  So it’s critical that it is memorable, unique, authentic and speaks to your customer.  In marketing speak, we are talking about your values, mission and tone of voice.

Branding sells, and the name stamped on a brand does most of the legwork – think of it as the cornerstone.  Get this piece solidly in the ground and you will get a solid competitive advantage.  

Build a solid marketing foundation

At the heart of everything we do is the marketing funnel – understanding how the marketing funnel works and how your customers interact with your business.  There are three building blocks that are essential elements of a marketing strategy that will drive growth for your business.  Understanding your purpose and your target market in detail will lay a solid foundation to help you with find the best name for your business. 

The three building blocks of funnel design: purpose, buyer personas and content planning

It’s tempting to go with the name first but those in the know would guide startups and existing companies going through a renaming process to get their brand architecture and brand positioning in first.  Getting these two elements in place will make naming a whole lot easier.  Download our message house and elevator pitch templates here to help you with your purpose and our buyer persona and content planning templates here.

“The lesson for marketers is that you should take your time with the brand name. Names are a tactical thing. Get your strategy done first.”

Mark Ritson, Marketeer & Author

We have put together a 5 point checklist to help guide you in your naming game:

+ Is it catchy – a clever brand name gives an identity to your business and helps you differentiate it from other players in the market.  The more memorable the better.

+ Make it easy to spell and pronounce – simple is best.  Would it pass the crowded bar test?  Imagine you are in a noisy bar and you are excitedly telling your friend about your new business… did they hear the name right or is it back to the drawing board to come up with something new?


+ Does it speak strongly to your target audience – does your name resonate with your customer? What does it mean to them?  Your brand name is your company story – a way to emotionally connect with your customer.   Mark Ritson gives a great example of a perfectly positioned brand name at the end of this article when UKTV launched its UKTV G2 channel as ‘Dave’.   As soon as you see ‘Dave’ on the TV programme schedule you know exactly what you are going to get.


+  Context & tone of voice – does your name give immediate context, does it convey the right message?  


+  Due diligence – and when you have sweated blood and tears, bored your colleagues, friends and family trying out new names, make time to check domain names, social media handles, trademarks and official government channels for your country e.g. Companies House for businesses setting up in the UK.  Check out the competition and be careful of taking a name that sounds very similar in adjacent product categories or could be misconstrued in another language (check out some good examples below). 

Funny naming fails

And finally, a word on rebranding.  Where you start is often not where you end up.  There are many famous brands that you may have heard of that started off with a different name. Businesses change and evolve over time.   The reasons for a rebrand can be manifold but the same rules apply.

Here are a few famous brand renames that come to mind…

Think customer first, get your brand architecture and brand positioning to do the hard work and then let the names flow.  Naming can be fun and you don’t have to have a big budget to get the best results either.  

Building a strong brand takes years and plenty of investment.  With the right name you have a head start.