There is no one right way to name a company. There is no single correct name for your company. Just like branding or really anything in the creative field, it’s completely subjective. When we sat down to write a blog post about naming a company, we initially did it with the intention of laying out our tried & true process, but then we realized… every single naming project we’ve done has gone slightly differently. We know how to scope a naming project, and we know that we’ll end up with a brand-defining name, but the points between vary based on the client and their needs.
What we did realize through this brainstorming session was that, though the process itself is anything but set in stone, there are some strict rules we abide by on every project. Whether you’re another agency or a business looking to establish an identity, we’d like to share our four rules for naming a company with you:
1. Keep It Simple.
By “simple” we do not mean “boring.” What we mean is that your brand or product name shouldn’t be a sentence. Really, it shouldn’t be more than two words, max. If it reaches three words, the third one better be something like “associates” or “partners” or “agency.” The number one thing we have to remind clients (and sometimes ourselves) of is that your name cannot encapsulate everything about your brand. Knowing that, it’s more important to ensure your name says something of importance.
Simple: Evangalist Agency
Not Simple: The Brand Evangelists Advertising Agency
2. Be Meaningful & Memorable.
Picking right up where we left off, we always encourage businesses to choose a name that means something and can easily be remembered. When companies don’t accomplish the “be meaningful & memorable” goal, they typically fall into one of two categories. The first category are brands with names you can’t pronounce on sight, spell phonetically, or just look ugly when written. Simply put, the meaning is impossible to discern. The brands in the second category are so boring that they’re unlikely to be remembered at all. In other words, unless you’re a law firm or a medical practice, consider not naming your company after yourself.
While being meaningful is subjective, we’ll use our own name to illustrate this point. We’re called Evangalist because we believe the strongest advertising comes from a brand’s own evangelists, so we strive to build brands that organically create evangelists. Seeing as our desired name was already taken, we altered the spelling from Evangelist to Evangalist, which didn’t affect pronunciation.
Meaningful: Evangalist Agency
Too Abstract: EVNGLST
Too Boring: North Texas Advertising
3. Prepare For A Conversation.
Because your brand name won’t be able to say every single thing about your business, be prepared to have a conversation about what specific aspects of your business your name does embody. More than that, think through all the potential conversations your brand name could cause. Are they ones you want to have? Is your name going to start conversations that actually distract from your key differentiators?
For example, when we selected Evangalist for our name, we thought through and expected conversations about whether we are a religious advertising firm. Guess what, we were right. Especially early in our existence, it felt like we had to explain our name on a weekly basis. But, by planning ahead and thinking through this eventuality, we had a mental script ready to transition the conversation from religion to the concept of brand evangelism and its importance to us.
What we’re saying is, if your brand name is going to start a conversation (and it probably should) be prepared with how you want to handle it.
4. Have A URL Strategy.
This is easily the least glamorous of our rules, but please believe us when we say it’s important. With the internet reaching maturity, it’s never been harder to find the right URL for your brand. Long story short, we didn’t necessarily choose Evangalist.Agency for our domain because we think .agency is a super cool vanity URL. We picked a name, went through branding, and then realized that our most ideal URLs were already taken.
Having experienced that heartbreak, we cross-reference every one of our name ideas for clients with potential URLs so that we can present what their domain name could be alongside the brand name concept. It’s 2018 and you really just can’t afford not to. There are some great free tools that make this a piece of cake, such as InstantDomainSearch.com and Google Domains.
Like all guidelines in the creative space, once you have a thorough understanding of these rules you’re free to strategically break them. There’s also nothing saying you can’t violate one of these rules and still end up with a great brand. Hell, we accidentally ignored Rule 4 and missed the mark on a portion of Rule 2 since our name can’t be spelled phonetically, and we’re a branding agency who branded ourselves.
The message here is that the more aware you are of the company naming best practices, the more likely you are to land on a great brand name. A name that’s simple, meaningful, memorable, begs the right questions, and can easily be found online. Once you’ve got that, it’s time to develop a kickass identity system, which is much more than just a logo, but that’s a topic for another blog entirely.
From our brand to yours, happy naming!