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How to name your brand

It’s such a big decision to name your business or brand and when you don’t feel you have the right name, it can stop you from moving forward. But if I could give you one piece of advice, it’d be this… don’t get too hung up on it. 

Go with your gut. Worst-case scenario, you change it. (People do.) Did you know Amazon started out as Cadabra. Inc.?! Even my own business started off as Sweetsmith Designs! 

That said, here are a few ways to help you conjure up a name. 

Ways to name your brand 

Use your name 

This is a great option for freelancers, solopreneurs and anyone who wants to be the face of the brand. But this isn’t limited to those who work alone. Using your name is the easiest and quickest way to get your business up and running. Your friends and family aren’t exactly going to say I don’t like that name. So, if you’re someone who likes to keep things simple, this option might be for you! A big benefit of naming the business after yourself is that it’s quicker to get your name out there when you’re starting out. You are the business and, as a newbie, you’ll want referrals coming in. So, when you’re networking, introducing yourself or telling people about what you do/offer, it’ll be easy for people to remember you and your business – as it’s the same name. Instead of using your name, you could use the name of a family member, a friend or even a pet! 

Brands that use their names: Coco Chanel, Kate Spade, John Lewis, Dyson, me (Alex Williams Design) 

Use a word that describes something your business does 

If you like the idea of giving your audience a clue about what your business does, you could include a word linked to your offering. It’s a great way to add personality but still give your audience an idea of what you do. You can have fun with this, and it can also help with search engine optimisation. 

Big brands that include what their business does in their names: Just Eat, Mailchimp, The White Company, Pizza Hut

Use words that aren’t associated with what you offer 

When all the obvious names have already been taken for your product or service, and you don’t want to use your name, consider using a random word (or words). It could be as simple as your favourite colour plus your favourite animal, e.g. Pink Cat or Pink Cat Designs. 

Big brands with names that aren’t associated with what they offer: Red Bull, Caterpillar, Amazon, Apple 

Use made-up words 

If you can’t (or don’t want to) use random words, then how about making up a word? The good thing about this is that your name is going to be unique. Just be mindful of having to communicate how the name is pronounced and that the word isn’t offensive or means something derogatory in a different language. 

Big brands that use made-up words for their names: Kodak, Rolex, Pixar 

Combine words, or parts of words, to create a new word (a portmanteau) 

To make it relevant to your business you could combine words or parts of words that suggest what your product or service offers. Netflix is a great example of a portmanteau, with ‘net’ representing the internet/streaming (how you use their service) and ‘flix’, an alternative spelling of ‘flicks’, which is slang for the cinema. Netflix – a made-up word – is now synonymous with watching TV/films. Netflix and chill, anyone? 

Big brands that use portmanteaus for their names: Instagram (instant camera + telegram), Pinterest (pin + interest), Snapchat (snap + chat), PayPal (pay + pal) 

Use an acronym or initialism 

A good way to shorten a long name and make it memorable is to use an acronym or an initialism. Acronyms form “words” from the first letter of each word, for example NASA. Initialisms are where you sound out the first letter of each word, like IBM (I-B-M). 

Big brands that use acronyms or initialisms for their names: DPD (Dynamic Parcel Distribution), ASOS (As Seen On Screen), NERF (Non-Expanding Recreational Foam) 

Use a location 

You could use the location of your business as inspiration for your brand name. Street names, towns, part of the postcode or even something more general such as ‘Sea View’ could all work well for your business. You’ll notice bars and restaurants often do this. 

Big brands that include a location in their names: KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Adobe (Adobe Creek), Cisco (San Francisco) 

Use words with a hidden meaning 

I love brand names that aren’t obvious where they originated from but have meaning behind them. 

Big brands that have a hidden meaning in their names: Five Guys (named after the owner’s five sons), LEGO (an abbreviation of the Danish words leg godt, meaning “play well”) 

So there's eight ways you could name your brand.

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