By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
Brainstorming names for your brand can often times be challenging because the possibilities seem endless. And after running through several hundred names, you might face a brick wall. We have created top five techniques to spur your brainstorm and inspire creativity.
Here’s an obscure question for you: Who was Captain Ahab’s first mate in Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick? Here’s a hint: there isn’t a block in NYC without this warm, rich brew of Americana. If you were thinking Dunkin’ Donuts, sorry. Starbuck of course. The widespread coffee chain could have been called Pequod, the name of Ahab’s ship, if Gordon Bowker had it his way. Luckily, they settled on Starbucks. Reference names can be interesting and imaginative; however, if your storybook character or object is easily recognizable, you might run into problems–not only with possible copyright infringement, but branding issues. If the cultural steamer were called Ishmael, there would be a serious branding quandary. Not only the strong Moby Dick association, but the religious overtones would be difficult to ignore when buying a fine brew at Ishmaels.
Often times when brainstorming, you might discover two or even three words that make sense as a brand name, but none that stand alone. If many words fit your brand, think of ways they can be work together. Think JetBlue. Jet has a double an tantra: it can mean movement or the physical jet. Where jet is more concrete and tangible, blue is more cerebral. Doesn’t blue conjure images of a clear sky? Vast, endless, beautiful skies… To demonstrate the importance of finding the right pair, what happens when you mash blue and jazz? Now blue takes on a whole new meaning. Name mashups are a great way to speak to the mind and the heart, but make sure the connotation works in your favor.
3. Gods and godesses
Victory. It is an interwoven brand theme for the giant sports equipment supplier, Nike. Therefore, it would be befitting to name the company after the Winged Goddess of Victory. Many brand names and pop culture icons are derived from mythology: Hermes (messenger of the gods), Helios (the sun), Apollo (god of light and truth), Morpheus (god of dreams), Hyperion (god of watchfulness and wisdom) are mythological figures you might have heard before. Finding a mythological figure could be one area of exploration beneficial for many writers and companies alike.
Sometimes it’s important to be forthright. Particularly in a world influenced by digital media–a straightforward brand name can be advantageous. Think about your visibility in search results. A Google search for Music Television will no doubt have MTV in the top five results. A descriptive brand name will also familiarize you customers with your product faster than if your name was more abstract and cerebral.
If MTV were grounded on earth, brands like Google and Apple would be in another galaxy. Abstract brand names allow for more imaginative liberty. Without a descriptive name, brands such as Google and Apple can engineer a completely new and unique experience with their customers. Given Google’s brand image, how would it change if they settled on Better Search or Information Aggragator? The name Google permits the imagination to dream of the potential and extensive offerings, whereas Better Search would limit the capabilities of the search giant.
Photo by Ivan Prole from Stock.Xchng
Find an available name or protect your brand using the appropriate trademark search tools.