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Six Tips For Creating a Memorable Brand Name

by Travis Stratford on 09/11/2019 | 5 Minute Read

Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon recently opened up about the long road to building a K-beauty brand, revealing how she sought out a market share by developing new, in-demand ideas and engaging with her consumer community.

It’s an inspiring story for new beauty brands seeking a road map to success. But, since Yoon grew her original line out of her pre-existing retail brand, there’s one vital step every new brand must take that her story doesn’t touch on; finding the right name. 

We all know that the right name is a core piece of a brand’s foundation. A name that grabs our attention is memorable and easily found online and on shelves; it also generates more peer recommendations, racks up more hashtag mentions, and ultimately, sells more. 

Look at other popular beauty brands like OUAI and Summer Fridays, or party supply pros Canary & King. Social-first brands like these have helped reshape the conversation between brands and consumers, so choosing the right name for a brand is essential. OUAI became Sephora’s number one fastest-selling brand because women love the product, but what helped them find it was the off-duty fashion model vibe of the brand, perfectly encapsulated by the simple Parisian slang word for “yes” or “yeah." Summer Fridays captures the recharging moment of that skincare brand’s self-care roots while Canary & King gets you excited about throwing a stylish party or get-together that rules.

So, before you take on Alicia Yoon’s zero-compromise approach to development, think about the power and strength of the name that will drive that development. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

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Be distinctive.

If you type your brand’s proposed name into Google or Instagram and 50 other results come up, then you need to think again. Try to find something singular, something you can own. 

For example, when singer-songwriter Thalia was looking for a name for her new beauty product range, there was a temptation to use her widely recognized first name, but the new brand would have become lost in the old one. Inspiration was taken from her middle name, Ariadna, and, eventually, Adria by Thalia was born.

There are so many challenging parameters around what can be trademarked that you’ll want to make sure you get some sound legal advice on just how ownable your name is. You don’t want to fall in love with a name, get halfway through creating all the visuals, and then find it’s trademarked elsewhere in the world.

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Match your name to the mood of your brand.

Your name is more likely to be memorable and successfully linked to your offerings if it accurately reflects your brand, whether that’s the only-if-you’re-in-the-know pronunciation of OUAI, the cheerful promise of a good time with Canary & King, or the sunny-escape feel of Summer Fridays

Consider Hulu; the name expresses that feeling of kicking back at the end of the day, all the world’s entertainment right there at your fingertips, and it’s the kind of title you don’t forget. Or Google, which, like its services, is distinct, quirky and original.

The best names are the results of open minds across the brand team. No idea is too bad for the first round of brainstorms, and every slash on the list will only help you refine what it is you want out of your name. So start with broad, thematic brainstorms that will help you chip away to the brand’s core, and a name that will define it. Then see how those options stack up to different practicalities.

Start broad and narrow down.

Canary & King had a shortlist of 12 names across four categories: Young at Heart, Location-Inspired, Animal Kingdom, and a miscellaneous Potpourri bucket. There were more than 80 names in the appendix but presenting all of those would be too overwhelming for the client. Instead, it’s necessary to look at how each of the 12 would work as a domain name and on social.

It’s this process of broadening out at first and then narrowing down based on what works and what the client likes that allows you to go beyond the obvious and find a name with genuine cut-through.

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Keep it concise.

Long names don’t tend to make for memorable names. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is, and “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” was, a successful brand — but they’re exceptions to the rule. Generally, if it’s more than one or two words, it’s tough to recall. Be snappy, tug at the heartstrings, tweak the synapses – make us remember it.

Consider the big picture.

It’s easy to focus so much on the name that can you forget it’s just one element in the brand platform. A significant part, yes, but still only one part. No matter how revelatory a name is, it won’t be the only thing conveying your brand to your customers.

So, whatever name you go with, be sure that it works in context. You can’t choose it without seeing how it’ll play out typographically, how it will fit into the visuals, how you could use it on social media, and so on. For example, the super simple, four-letter OUAI not only looks great on the packaging but also lends itself to wordplay like “OUAI cool,” “OUAIsted,” and “myOUAI.”

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Don’t overthink it.

This is probably the most indispensable advice we can offer around naming a brand; don’t sweat it. It matters, but at the end of the day, Tide detergent could have been just as successful with names like Swell, Surge or Flux—they’re all in the same naming family. 

It’s like naming a baby. It seems like the most consequential decision in the world, but gives it six months, and whatever you call your baby will seem like the only name they could ever possibly have had.

Take your time choosing the name, but not too long. Seek guidance from the experts, but have confidence that no one knows your customers better than you. And above all else, remember your name is a big piece of the puzzle when building your brand, but it’s not the whole picture.