Naming your tech company or product is a huge deal and the difference between a bad brand name and a good brand name can make or break a company. Don’t believe me? Let’s get to it!
Your brand name is one of the first things people see or hear before they know what it is you do or offer so you can imagine first-impressions here are vital. It’s crucial that you get a brand name right early on and that you take some time to do it well after all, your brand name is a tech company’s most valuable asset (Nielsen).
Having a poor brand name can also mean you’ll lose traction in the market as you’ll be forgetful and uninspiring. Developing a name for your product with a care and attention is the only way to prevent this.
What You’ll Learn
- First we’ll look into the things that make a bad name. These are things that plague the industry and the approach to developing a name. They are things to avoid which can lead to the tell-tale signs of poor planning and negligence to the importance of a decent brand name.
- Next, once we’ve looked at the foundations on which you shouldn’t base your name on we’ll look at things to avoid when deciding on a name.
- Then we’ll look into what considerations you should have with renaming if that is or ever becomes an option.
- We also take a look at one big consideration that may completely change your tech product or service!..
- You’ll also learn the secret to getting the perfect .com domain for your brand!
- We’ll dive how you too can actually create your own tech brand name name using the methodology we follow here at Jupiter and the Giraffe.
- Finally I’ll leave you with some final thoughts on your next steps to building a tech brand.
Benefits to a Strong Brand Name
- Brand recognition – Having a name that sticks is a great way to be top-of-mind in the consumer (and stay there).
- Customer loyalty – We’ll get into the values but when your name expresses your values this encourages the right kind of customer who will remain loyal increasing their average lifetime value.
- Competitive edge in the market – Another benefit to a sticky name is standing out in the market above all the hugely generic names.
- Enhanced credibility – Having a well-thought-out name enhances credibility and looks profession. Consumers sense when a name has taken a serious amount of time to develop.
- Ease of purchase – All of the above culminates in an ease of purchase as it develops trust and familiarity.
4 Things To Avoid When Developing a Brand Name
To create a great name you must understand your brand. To understand your brand is to not only understand your customers but you must begin to understand yourself and what you stand for. A name simply rooted what you do can be helpful (more on that later) but it doesn’t contain any hidden treasure for a perceiver to unravel and understand about you.
Think about your values as a business and what you stand for. Think about the emotions you give your customer of the benefit they got from your tech product or service. Not having depth behind a name results in a lack-lustre experience with the brand and not a memorable one.
Like we spoke about earlier, your company needs to understand its users. If you have a brand name that doesn’t take into account its users it wont resonate. There will be a missed opportunity to engage your audience by your name by simply understanding your customers and what they respond to.
Think about how they speak or act. Think about how they engage with your product.
Having a name that stimulates emotion and imagery is another way to excite and engage your customers. Think of Apple, the ideas that conjures up when you think about what Apple does. The tree of knowledge, Isaac Newton. It’s a visually stimulating brand name.
What’s the story behind your business? How did it come to be?
Having a name that doesn’t revolve around a theme or concept doesn’t give it the ability to extend any further than simply what you do. The name Jupiter and the Giraffe gives us a vast back-story and allows us to explore many different ideas of space, travel, science… the list goes on.
If you don’t avoid the above points your brand name won’t move people. It won’t inspire or invoke any kind of emotional response and that would be a shame, wouldn’t it? You’ll be missing out on huge brand awareness and you’ll fail to relate to your target market.
Even if you avoid these things and your brand name somehow has depth and meaning, there are still ways to fluff it up so let’s discuss that.
Things That Can Break a Brand Name
Even with a great tech product and a terrible brand name you’ll be received well in the beginning but the success will only last so long. You could compare it to a one-hit-wonder. All the hype around something new and fresh but lacks any sort of depth and longevity and your future efforts will go completely unnoticed. Don’t be another “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.
If you have a name, take a look at these next steps and see if you fall victim to them.
Looks Like a Typo
Yes, the letter X or Z rock but Xerox are about the only company to ever pull off a complicated name. “Svpply” get my vote on the most awful name (although they did get bought out by eBay so I guess they’re the ones laughing now).
Imagine working for this company and telling people your email address…
YOU: It’s SUPPLY spelt with a ‘V’
YOU: V! VICTOR. S-V-P-P-L-Y (.com)
Customer: Well that’s a stupid name
Samuel Gregory: I KNOW!
Try not to be too clever with your name. It over-complicates things unnecessarily for the customer and pretty much everyone else.
Following the Trend
I want to strangle the person who first came up with “ify” on the end of a name. Is it supposed to be making the brand name into a verb? If it’s a strong enough brand it will become the verb (Selotape, Hoover, Post-it).
How many tech brands follow suite from Shopify or Spotify. It’s not fun and it’s not clever. Stop it.
Lowercase ‘i’ is another copycat name following a dead trend. Again, who is going to be fooled into thinking your rubbish clock radio is an Apple product because you’ve stuck the letter ‘i’ before your name? AND you’ve painted it white! Please…
Ignore what is popular because in time you will look dated. Focus on yourself and be practical.
Again, saying exactly what you do is not only boring but as a business, it limits the potential for you to brand to branch out into different areas. If you stick the name of your town in your brand name or the actual thing you produce this means you’ll only ever be known for that one thing. I guess an upside is SEO but it really depends where your priorities lie. Being a memorable brand that’s making a difference or number one in google and just a convenience to those searching for something you offer?
Carrying on from before, having a descriptive brand name is great for SEO and clear to the user but its lifeless. Another thing I see which in my personal taste is lazy is mushing two words together. This can be done very cleverly or it can be very lazily.
My quick tip on this one is that if you do this, make sure the words you use are elegant and articulate. Make sure they have meaning and depth and try to avoid trying to hard. It should be easy to pronounce and read. These, to me, are when made up names or portmanteaus work best.
Curse of Knowledge
This one gets my sympathy. Curse of knowledge in itself is a hard one to spot and an even tougher one to balance. You’re trying to come up with a brand name that resonates but you don’t want to alienate new users by having a brand name that only select people can understand.
There’s only one way around this one and that’s testing. Ask coworkers, ask friends, ask strangers. Get a feel if your brand name is suffering from the curse of knowledge.
Impossible To Say
Maybe “Impossible” is too harsh word to say but I think I want to get across the point that it should say like it reads. Did you know there are people in this world that pronounce it “Ah-Dobe”?
Once again, ask around. Find out if people are pronouncing it like you think it should be pronounced.
Renaming Your Tech
If you’re already an established brand or have an established product and you’ve now got a sinking feeling in your stomach that you’ve made a big mistake, fear not. It’s actually not that uncommon for tech brands to rename themselves (either they legally had to or did it through choice).
Did you know that Google started out as a search engine called “Backrub”? PayPal was called “Confinity” and Nintendo “Marufuku”?
Don’t be afraid to change your brand name. Legally you may still be registered as your previous name (if that’s a legal nightmare to overcome) but you can operate under any name you choose as long as it isn’t taken.
The Convenience Factor
In the same Nielsen study they uncovered an interesting fact.
“More than one-fifth of global respondents (22%) say they purchased a new product because it was convenient, and slightly fewer (19%) say they purchased it because it made their life easier.”Nielsen
When we think about this in context of your brand name It’s important to make understanding your brand easier and enjoyable. Causing the customer extended cerebral stress just by simply presenting them with a name that’s difficult to pronounce or is highly irrelevant to what you do is not good. I call these micro-stresses that, individually, don’t do much but collectively they create mental strain.
You can alleviate this by at least making the process and discovering of understanding your brand fun. Giving the name depth and meaning that is a joy to discover.
Coming Up With a Brand Name
Now that you’re common experts on what makes a good brand name, let’s take a look at how you can begin to develop your own name. This is the process we run a Jupiter and the Giraffe where we successfully brand and name tech companies.
Write Down Brand-Related Words
You can do this in a group or you can run this bad boy solo. It really depends on your preference (or practicalities).
Pick out up to 12 keywords that reflect your company, what you do or what you make and most importantly, your values. This is a common practice when you’re establishing a brand as they can bring to light what you stand for as a company but that’s for another post.
Become Detective (Wombat) Holmes
A great tool we use is MindNode for this exercise. Create nodes of all of your words and then using anything you can get your hands on (thesaurus, dictionary, Google, Pinterest), simply start digging. Digging like a little wombat, burrowing for clues to a crime. One at a time, type in your word and look for associated words and add that node connecting to its parent word. Keep doing this until you’ve exhausted your self. Write down words you don’t understand and also write down words you feel could go somewhere. Do not write down words that you do not like. They are useless.
Use imagery too. Google image search your words and see what comes up. This may be the best way to start your mind wondering on a tangent, loosely tied to the original word. Let it wonder, this is good. Create nodes on words you find and just keep digging.
Try not to put too much thought into this process. Just write down anything and everything you find.
Pick Your Faves
Unfortunately, if you’re not creative, this is where it starts to get a bit tough but stick with it. You’ll need to think a little abstractly and a little less laterally. Lateral-thinking is fine but try to let go a bit. I personally hang on to my lateral thinking as I like names that are both clever but also simple. I want a name to scream “OMG why wasn’t it this obvious from the beginning”.
Now that you have what is hopefully a huge list of words, some should start to jump out. Start to pick out some of your favourites and try to think creatively about how they could be used while still staying true to the above “rules”.
Most of your words are probably taken both legally and in a domain name capacity. Adding modifiers can help bring a bit of relevance to your tech company. It could be “Traversal Starships” (assuming Traversal has been taken). It gives you the ability to use that word you really like as well as be unique and be slightly more descriptive about what your company does.
You could also combine words, although you probably thought about doing that already. Now, at least, you have a list of well-thought-out words to take your pick from instead of joining the two most obvious ones together. Truncate a word but, of course, make sure it’s not annoying and it’s pronounceable!
A lot of our clients get caught up on getting the .com for their chosen name. I think with the rise of domain name extensions, you can have some fun. Also “Get” is a popular prefix to your brand name as a domain name. This especially works well if it’s a product but take a look at some other verbs that might work but don’t get too hung up on this, It’s really not as big of a deal as you think.
There’s not really much to it beyond this point. A little creativity here and some exploration there. The bulk of the work is done via your keyword researching. This serves as the foundation to your brand name and using these it’s a case of exploration and trying to join the dots.
Once you have some finalists, I would strongly suggest putting them against your competitors. How do they stand out? Do they compete with the giants? This tiny exercise really puts context to your efforts and should get your juices flowing seeing your name in amongst some of the biggest names in tech! If your name looks a bit flaccid here, it probably is, so maybe go with another.
However you choose to create your name, I think the point of this article is to in a way force you to just sit down and give your brand name some serious thought. It really is a valuable asset and key to start to build a brand.
Let’s not get too excited. In this article, we’ve explored the do’s and dont’s of naming your company or product. We’ve even looked at how you too can create an incredibly insightful, in-depth and, most importantly, relevant brand name but this is just the beginning. You have your brand and you have your values. You have a name that resembles this and you understand your customers. Building a brand starts with a good name but there’s much more to a brand than just a name.
Building a reputable brand is a journey that is beyond the scope of this article but there’s a fantastic article that covers the misconceptions of how to build a build a brand.
With all that said why not download our FREE ebook “How To Launch An Awesome Tech Brand” and carry on the journey!
I want to give credit to the awesome book “Hello, My Name is Awesome” as well in this post. This article takes many of the ideas from that book and distills it into a short read. If you’re looking for more info to create a great brand name, read that.