How to be the next FacebookBY SHAUNA LI ROOLVINK
International brands such as Coca Cola, McDonald’s Facebook and Google are global success stories. In Singapore, who wouldn’t know Banyan Tree Resorts, BreadTalk and Osim. The first step towards such brand success is to have a great brand name.
Many of us hope that once we have chosen a brand name, we would never have to change it, as it would risk brand equity and revenue loss. It is comparatively easier to change a logo, package design or advertising.
You could avoid naming mistakes by following the basic naming principles and advice below:
Say ‘NO’ to acronyms
Avoid acronyms unless you are as eminent as IBM, DBS, HSBC, etc. For many years, these brands have well-established themselves, though their original long names, “International Business Machines”, “Development Bank of Singapore” and “The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation” are quite a mouthful.
Over time, their customers adopted acronyms for the sake of ease and convenience. By the time these companies officially changed their names to the acronym forms, the transition was viewed as natural and the process seamless.
To create acronym names from the start is not advisable as customers have no idea what the acronyms stand for, and will have difficulties remembering the names.
Avoid generic names
Generic, descriptive names such as DIY Mart, Coffee Place, etc. are useful because they immediately describe the business you are in. However, avoid them unless you are the first mover in the category.
For every “DIY Mart” and “Coffee Place”, you will find “DIY Place”, “DIY Shoppe”, “Coffee Zone”, “Coffee Stop” etc. Second fiddles will come across as copycats. Descriptive names are also more difficult to infuse brand personality and register as trademarks.
Finding the right name
There is no ‘magical’ or ‘right’ name due to the subjective nature of the exercise. The key is to overcome subjectivity by adhering to a well-defined naming strategy and brief, which will guide your evaluation process.
Here are some tips as to choosing the ‘right’ name:
A good name is ‘registrable’
One critical area is to ensure that shortlisted names are ‘registrable’ in all the trademark classes and markets you intend to enter. Online trademark searches are available in markets such as the US, Canada, EU, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.
The majority of established brands are likely to have originated from these countries. This will help you eliminate names that are the same or too similar to existing brands in those markets.
A good name is pronounceable
Names that are difficult to pronounce may be suitable for high-end luxury goods (e.g. L’Occitane, Gianni Versace, Moët & Chandon). However, we do not recommend this type of name for most brands, especially mass market ones. Pronouncing the name wrongly could embarrass your customers and cause unnecessary confusion for the brand.
A good name should not have negative connotations in markets you wish to enter
Make sure the shortlisted names do not have negative connotations in the markets you wish to enter, in terms of grammar, semantics and linguistics.
It would be prudent to check with professional translation firms who are familiar with the local language nuances in the markets you wish to enter.
A good name captures the essence of your brand’s personality
Think of your name as a foundation which supports the attributes and personality of the brand. A bakery brand that desires to be friendly and accessible may have a name such as “BreadTalk”. A beverage brand that desires to convey health and vitality attributes may have a name such as “Vitasoy”.
A brand that specializes in environmental services may have a name such as “Clean Globe”.
Shauna Li Roolvink is the Founder and Principal Consultant of BrandHub. Shauna has nearly 20 years
of experience in business strategy, and is an expert in the areas of: start-up branding, repositioning
of major corporate brands, Brand Strategy, Brand Naming, Brand Architecture, Brand Valuation,
Brand Training, Communications Strategy and Design. She has a passion for new brand creation and
branding/mentoring for start-ups. She is a mentor at Founder’s Institute and JFDI SingTel Innov8
Start-up Boot Camp and a frequent speaker on branding topics throughout Asia.
For additional information, please contact Ms. Shauna Li Roolvink or BrandHub at 6224-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.