6 questions to ask before you name a brand

Content provided by a guest contributor.

Creating an identity for a new business is an exciting and often daunting task. Like in many stages of life, there is a fork the road and you need to decide which path to take.

The naming process can either become complex and lengthy, giving you sleepless nights and fueling endless debate; or it can be an adventure that is focused and goal-orientated – leading to a brand name that appeals to all role players and your target audience. It’s not always that black and white, but keep the analogy in mind when you start veering off the path!

Here are six questions to keep in mind from the get go:

1. Is it appealing?

In other words, will your target audience like it? There are a number of ways to test out name options. As a start up you can tap in to the opinions and feedback from your peers, friends and family or run a small focus group – ask people what they like, don’t like and why. If budget allows, get a branding expert to help you – it’s worth spending time and money to get it right at the beginning.

2. Does the name personify the brand?

For example consider whether you want it to be serious or playful, professional or fun, or how it will convey a particular message.

3. Is it simple, catchy and memorable?

You want it to be top of mind for the consumer. Ideally this applies to the full brand name and the acronym or shortened version of the name too.

4. Is it available?

Do a quick search for the URL you would want to use, as well as social media platforms. If it’s available, you can lodge an application with the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) to reserve your company name. They will consider whether the name is identical or very similar to that of an existing company. 

According to Adrian Dommisse of Dommisse Attorneys, “The registration gives the company no right to stop others using the name. The registration simply prevents the registration of a further company under an identical or very similar name. A company does not automatically have the right to do business under its registered name. If the name is the same as or similar to a registered trademark, the use of that name could infringe on the trademark registration.

A trademark register search is quick and inexpensive and tells you if the name which you have in mind will infringe a trademark registration.”

5. Is it unique?

Stand out from the crowd and your competitors. This will also help your customers to find you on Google. Avoid words that are likely to be searched for frequently - such as budget and home. A good example is Yousemble – a platform for building websites where you assemble it yourself. By coining a new term, the brand name is completely unique, but still makes sense.

6. Is it adaptable across cultures/countries?

If you plan on taking the brand global make sure the name and values are translatable and relevant to the target audience. For example South African-specific names are great if you want to reach South Africans living overseas, or people that have visited South Africa. If this is not the case, it’s advisable to go for a more neutral name, which is also unlikely to be offensive in another country. The style of the logo/ icon will be an important factor in terms of the impact of the brand, as well as the brand positioning.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a brand name with a bit of history or a background story is often appealing to clients/ potential customers, as it allows them to understand your brand and identify it on a more personal level.

When coming up with a name for our agency, we started with the word Collective – as we wanted to communicate our collaborative approach. The rest was simple: we loved our new office space on Wale Street and often mentioned the yellow door when giving clients directions. So Yellow Door Collective was established, or YDC for short.


The content in this article was provided by Emma Donovan, co-founder of Yellow Door Collective – a full service marketing agency.

For more information, contact:

Website: https://yellowdoorcollective.com/

Tel: 021 422 1174 OR 072 219 8448

Email: hello@theyellowdoor.co.za

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