Creating a great brand name is almost half the battle in establishing your company or your product. But getting there involves the kind of creative thinking that might be outside a small-business owner's purview. If you're having trouble, branding experts say the first step is to pinpoint your strengths. Why are you the best? And what do you deliver that's unique? Then, consider the customers whom you're targeting and what they value most, such as social responsibility, authenticity or customization. Then, think about how you can best express these principles effectively through words.
Here are the three best ways to come up with a brand name:
1. Take inspiration from everywhere. Write down the first few ideas that come to mind when you think about your business' service, product and personality; try using symbols, metaphors and word variations, says Michelle Adelson, owner and creative director, of brand agency Copia Creative Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif.
That's what Dan Kim, chief executive of Red Mango Inc., a frozen yogurt franchise in Dallas, did while trying to name the flavors of his frozen yogurt and iced tea drinks. He wanted names that would give customers 'an emotional experience' and appeal to their sense of adventure. For a tangerine-and-mango yogurt, he combined the flavors with the word 'pandemonium' to create Tangomonium. For iced tea drinks, he wanted customers to hear the 'tea' sound when they order, so he named drinks Fanteasia (a wild berry hibiscus tea) and Mysteaque (vanilla black tea with hints of bourbon flavor). 'We embrace having fun with the names,' Mr. Kim says.
2. Make your brand name memorable. 'If it sounds like something else, it's not going to be strong in the marketplace,' Ms. Adelson says. The founders of Bonobos Inc., an online-only men's apparel retailer in New York, wanted a name that was whimsical yet reflected that their clothing was clearly for guys, not gals. So they named the company after a great ape, an endangered species that's pronounced bo-NOH-bos, not BON-oh-bos. While some customers end up mispronouncing the name or asking quizzically about what kind of animal it is, it's an opportunity that Andy Dunn, chief executive and co-founder, relishes. While saying the name correctly, he mentions that the company also has donated $15,000 in the past year to a bonobos sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This gives anyone an 'excuse to talk about who you are beyond your product,' Mr. Dunn says.
3. Make sure it matches your company's mission. Robbie Vitrano, a founding partner of Naked Pizza in New Orleans, wanted to differentiate his take-out and delivery-company's name from the buzz words surrounding the organic, healthy or green industries, since they don't necessarily work in appealing to a wide variety of customers. He should know. In 2006, the original name of Naked Pizza was the World's Healthiest Pizza. It was just a little too preachy-sounding, Mr. Vitrano says. It didn't bode well for a company trying to franchise and court investors. 'It was less customer-friendly,' he says. 'It was a bit egotistical. It was a little too much about us.'
Leslie Homan, designer and founder of Femme Metale Inc. of Corona, Calif., makes edgy rock-n-roll jewelry for women. She wanted the company's image to be strong, chic and feminine. So, she played with the word, 'metal,' and the French phrase, 'femme fatale.' It clicked for her: 'Femme Metale.' The company's original name, Superstar, didn't seem as cutting edge; it 'was very junior and didn't say anything about what I was doing,' she says. Today, her jewelry line is sold at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, and Ms. Homan counts Cheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera and Kate Moss as clients. 'I think you have to look into what makes your brand significant, different and interesting,' she says. 'What would make you stand out in the marketplace?'
1. 尽可能多地汲取灵感。位于加利福尼亚州圣莫尼卡的品牌公司Copia Creative Inc.的所有人和创意总监米歇尔•艾德尔森(Michelle Adelson)说，写下最初几个在你想到企业服务、产品和个性的时候脑海里浮现的想法；在这个过程中，试着使用标识、比喻和文字变化。
达拉斯冷冻酸奶特许经营企业Red Mango Inc.的首席执行长丹•金姆(Dan Kim)在试图给他多种口味的冷冻酸奶和冰冻茶饮料起名的时候正是这么做的。他希望品牌的名字能够带给顾客“感性的体验”，引起他们对自身内在冒险感的认同。对于桔子和芒果味酸奶，他将这些口味与词语“pandemonium”混合，创建了品牌名Tangomonium。对于冰冻茶饮料，他想要顾客在购买的时候就能听见“tea”（茶）的发音，因此他将这些饮料取名为Fanteasia（一种野莓芙蓉茶）和Mysteaque（香草味红茶，暗示带有波旁酒味）。 金姆先生说，我们喜欢有趣的名字。
2. 让品牌名过目难忘。艾德尔森女士说，如果品牌自身听起来象是别的产品或者服务，那么它就无法在市场上立足。纽约网上男装零售商Bonobos Inc.的创始人想要一个古怪的品牌名称，但是又要能反映他们的服装是为所有男性、而非女性设计的。因此，他们将企业以一种濒临绝种的猩猩的名字命名，读起来是bo-NOH-bos，而不是BON-oh-bos。虽然一些客户还是读错名字或者好奇地询问这到底是哪种动物，但这正是首席执行长和联席创始人安迪•邓恩(Andy Dunn)所期望的。在正确读出品牌名称的同时，他提到自己的企业在去年还向刚果民主共和国的一个倭黑猩猩保护区捐款了15,000美元。邓恩先生说，此举让所有人都有了一个谈论产品之外事情的理由。
3. 确保品牌符合企业的使命。新奥尔良Naked Pizza（意为裸体比萨饼）的创始合伙人维特拉诺(Robbie Vitrano)希望将他的外卖企业的名字与围绕有机、健康或者绿色食品行业的流行词汇区别开来，原因是这些名字并不一定能够有效地吸引广泛的顾客群体。他应该有所体会。2006年，Naked Pizza原来的名字是World's Healthiest Pizza（意为世界上最健康的比萨饼）。维特拉诺说，听上去有点儿像是在说教。这对一家试图进行特许并吸引投资者的企业并不好用。他说，这种名字对顾客不够友好；有点以自我为中心；过多地谈论自己。
位于加州科罗娜的Femme Metale Inc.的设计师兼创始人莱斯利•赫曼(Leslie Homan)制作面向女性的前卫摇滚首饰。她希望公司的形像强悍、时髦并且女性化。因此，她摆弄起英文单词“metal”（意为金属）和法文词组“femme fatale”（意为蛇蝎美人）。两者的结合让她非常满意：“Femme Metale”。该公司原来的名字Superstar（意为超级明星）听起来并不前卫；她说，这种名字“非常初级，没有说出我正在设计的首饰的任何特点。”如今，她的首饰系列甚至在Nordstrom和Bloomingdale's等高档百货公司出售；赫曼女士还成功吸引雪儿•克罗(Cheryl Crow)、克里斯蒂娜•阿奎莱拉(Christina Aguilera)和凯特•莫斯(Kate Moss)等明星成为自己的常客。她表示，“我认为你必须审视自己的品牌到底因何而重要、别致和有趣；是什么让你在市场上与众不同？”