Blog

Building Extraordinary Brands

What’s in a name?

The delicate art of naming your business.

By Dan Rowell

03 April 2019
Share:

A name is just a name until given meaning.

Imagine meeting your best friend’s baby for the first time. They introduce you to it, “meet baby Archer!”

You smile at them and go, “Oh wow, yeah, not sure about the name.” Cue incredible awkwardness.

This scenario didn’t happen. It probably doesn’t happen. Hopefully it doesn’t happen.

What normally happens is they introduce and you say, “that’s fantastic!”

Naming your business is like naming your baby. During the naming process, everyone has an opinion. Here’s a tip; don’t make it a popularity contest. Do you know what happens when you trust a group to name things? You end up with Boaty McBoatface.

Naming a business or new product is a bloody challenge. But once you decide on it, lock it in and begin telling people, suddenly you don’t question it. It’s just the name!

I can absolutely sympathise, because I went through an extremely challenging process coming up with our business name. Yes, it’s not the most creative, my initials followed by ‘Branding’. However there isn’t much guessing about what we specialise in!

Naming your own business is harder than getting someone to name something for you, but for those outsourcing the naming process, you should try to be involved. We all like things we’ve had a hand in building. “A good idea has many mothers.”

I believe that naming a B2B (business to business) brand must be different to a B2C (business to consumer) brand, plus it depends on whether you’re offering a product or service.

B2B allows for more descriptive, rational and traditional names.

B2C need to be more emotive and memorable.

The name needs to properly represent the business you’re trying to build and accurately reflect your brand’s promise and intended market position. A new hairdresser called Cuts, Colours and Blow-waves will immediately convey different connotations to Studio Evoke.

If you’re trying to look like a big corporate to appeal to large organisations and enterprises, then your name needs to reflect that. I haven’t seen many successful and trustworthy multi-nationals called Bazza’s Bookkeeping and Finance…

Not only should the name reflect the service offering, but it needs to be a name that you’re proud to personally promote.

A few years back, we worked on a rebrand for a small-business accountant. Our client was considering renaming his business Business Pig as it was memorable. Now these guys are brilliant accountants and excellent at what they do, but I knew he couldn’t tell new customers with a straight face about this rebranded business. It takes a big personality to support a big, outlandish and catchy name. Just because people remember it doesn’t mean it’s a good name. If we did go with this name, I knew he’d reluctantly and apologetically sell this new brand.

Instead we came up with Hoyle & Co. Two years on the name holds positive meaning for the many customers that rely on their services. More importantly, David, our client, is proud to promote it. Plus in a professional-serviced based business that relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, it’s hard to tell your mates and colleagues to use Business Pig for their next tax return.

 

Here are 3 possible starting points for developing a new brand name:

  1. Location derived – If your product is produced in an idyllic location or you’re serving a local market it could benefit to include that in the name. E.g. Noosa Chocolate Factory, Byron Bay Cookie Company, Burleigh Brewing Co.
  2. Benefit/usage focused – It could be your innovative process or the value proposition of business. E.g. Easy Jet, Ziploc, Afterpay.
  3. Founder focused – It could be a nod to the company founder/s or their heritage. E.g. Ben & Jerry’s, Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard.

A fourth but more challenging direction, is creating an abstract name. Tech companies like Google and Yahoo have done this to great success (albeit with huge advertising budgets), again this goes back to our original point that “a name is just a name until you give it meaning.”

 

Before you lock in your name, remember to do these checks:

  • Domain availability: .com.au or .com domain name (sorry but I just don’t trust .net or .business, or .tech)
  • IP Australia, ensuring there are no active trademarks
  • Business name availability

 

Some of my favourite brand names I’ve worked on:

BAXE

A new digital exchange marketed towards an Eastern market. One of the key components of this cryptocurrency is that it will be backed by gold and other fiat currencies.

We combined “Ba” (lucky number 8 in Chinese) and “XE” (currency exchange) to create BAXE = “Lucky exchange”.

 

Joseph Highland

A Queensland-based coffee and ice cream business with stores in Toowong and St Lucia. We wanted a name that felt friendly, accessible, trustworthy and established. It’s quite common to use cows in dairy/ice cream branding, however we hadn’t seen Highland cattle used in this space, and we thought they were just so damn cool! Combine that with coffee = “Joe”, we landed on Joseph Highland – who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone with that name?!

 

Young Farmers

Aimee and Carl Young were two mid-twenty somethings selling grass fed beef, raised locally on their family farm in Queensland’s Scenic Rim Region. Given Australia’s fondness for farmers, combined with their fortunate last name we landed on a name that would provide a platform to build a loveable brand.

 

If you’d like help coming up with a name for your next business venture (and work with the creative minds behind inspiring brand names like DSR Branding…) then get in touch 😉