Your brand: Some advice for common sense brand name and design

Let me preface this article with some truths. I have never had my own company, owned or even created my own brand.

That said, I hereby offer some simple tips to follow when creating and naming your new business or brand. So without further ado:

1. Your name doesn't have to mean anything. But make sure it rolls off the tongue

It helps if your brand is nice to say. There are some brands that we like because we like to say them. Because it sounds cool to say them. These include:

  • Google
  • Radiohead
  • 37 Signals
  • Wagamama
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Flickr

In case you were wondering, they don't include:

  • Gillette Mach 3
  • Commodore 64
  • Phil Collins
  • Deloitte Touce Tohmatsu

Be catchy.

2. Killing acronyms and saving syllables

If you've got a long name you could shorten it to an acronym. It worked for a strong brand like Kentucky Fried Chicken afterall.

But unless you've got a really strong brand, don't bother. If your customers don't know what your acronym stands for, they're not likely to call you, are they?

Also, you shouldn't reduce your name to acronyms if you're not saving syllables. KFC cuts it down from 6 syllables to 3. Hewellet Packard halves 4 into 2 to get hp. But there was no benefit for Pan Am to change their name to PA. You'll never hear me calling myself BR either.

(This idea orginated in the book Positioning. Quite ann old book now, but the idea remains relevent)

3. Long or short? Long … or short.

There are exceptions, but your brand name should be either long or short. Not in-between.

Long names like "I can't believe it's not butter" or "Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs" stand out. Short names like "Squidoo" or "Flock" or "Skype or "Apple" do too.

Don't put yourself in the middle though. Brands like "General Motors", "New Balance" or "The Herald Sun" seem rather dull.

4. Invite your brand to a party!

I got this tip from my FMCG days and I still think that it's a good one.

Something that you should think of when you are creating a brand is it's personaility. What would your brand be like if he/she were a person?

And how would your brand behave if you invited them to a party? Would they be outgoing? Interesting? Would they ask questions, or would they just talk about themselves all night? Would they eat all the food? Steal beer from your fridge?

If you are too embarrased to invite your brand along, you might not want to launch it either.

5. Is your brand readable?

If you're reading this blog, I'm sure that you're aware that we live in an over-communicated society. If you actually get the chance to show someone your brand, at least make it readable and as memorable as possible.

You simply need good design these days – it should be central to your strategy. So no hard-to-read fonts. No logos that don't jump off the page. A brand that is difficult to read is not that different to a rude receptionist – it can destroy the first impression of your business.

6. Don't follow the crowd – not even the coolest crowd

I'm always inspired by new graphic design. But designers tend to copy each other from time to time.

It can be easy to get caught up in the latest design trends. At the moment everyone's making their brand shiny. A few years ago it was drop shadows. Before that it was purple or orange logos everywhere.

Keep your eye on good new design. There will always be loads of new design that you'll be tempted to adapt. But don't forget to stand out from the crowd. Even if it's a cool one.

8. And finally … watch the spelling

If you spend any time online, you have probably noticed that everyone is mispelling brand names right now. , , and even Google are all misspelt.

My advice to you – just because the bloggers and web 2.0 community are doing it doesn't mean you have to. You have to make yourself as findable as possible both online and off. So unless you have a very good reason to use zany misspellings, don't.

This has been my longest post to date. I think I might go and have a little lie down now.
 

7 Responses

  1. “My advice to you – just because the bloggers and web 2.0 community are doing it doesn’t mean you have to. You have to make yourself as findable as possible both online and off. So unless you have a very good reason to use zany misspellings, don’t.”

    I disagree Google isn’t miss spellllt The name “Google” is a play on the word “googol,” which was coined by Milton Sirotta…

    Also the 22 immutable laws of marketing by alan reis has some interesting plays on how works work for metaphor to represent the promise of wha a brand is…

    :Let me preface this article with some truths. I have never had my own company, owned or even created my own brand.:

    Your blog is a brand. Your personal reputationis a brand.
    ;-)

  2. Thanks Kevin,

    Funny you mention 22 immutable laws – I was talking to a friend on the weekend who recommended this book to me. I will add this to list ever-growing list of books I want to read.

    And of course you are right about blogs being brands.

    I’m heading back home to Australia to the end end of the year. Your blog keeps me informed about how things are progressing in the social media field at home. My goal is to get into this area back in Australia, so I hope very much that we cross paths somewhere along the way.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. [...] Ben Rowe points us to Good Brand Naming practice. [...]

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