Whenever you bring something new into the world, it needs a name. A brand.
And settling on a brand name can be hard. It can even be agonizing.
As someone who has named many businesses, products, blogs, organizations, conferences, etc., as well as four children and two white hens, I can relate.
Usually the process of naming a brand moves through 5 Steps:
- Consider what message you want to convey with the name (e.g. expertise, creativity, professionalism, fun, caring, style, innovation, prestige, etc.)
- Brainstorm a lot of possibilities
- Check that the corresponding domain names are available (you can skip this step if you’re naming a pet, though some people apparently do take it into account)
- Ask others for feedback on your top candidates
- Stop agonizing over the name and just decide already
I think the most important step is #5. So many details can’t go ahead until you have a brand name, stalling your entire project. Many worthy ventures have run out of steam before their originators could agree on what to name them.
What a shame!
Especially since the name is not very important. In fact, the name hardly matters at all.
If you are deep in the process of naming your brand, you probably won’t believe me on this point. I didn’t believe my cousin, the Israeli business consultant Shmuel Merhav, when he told me eight years ago that any name could work. At the time I was trying to name my first translation company and I had tied my brain in knots considering so many cool and creative ideas. He told me to just call it Naomi Translations and move on to the next step of building my business.
I did not take his advice, but now that I am older and wiser, I completely agree with him. It’s perfectly clear to me that the company (which is now defunct) would have been just as successful if I’d called it Naomi Translations, instead of the painstakingly brainstormed QA Translations.
But What if I Hate Your Name
Some people whiz through steps 1, 2 and 3, but then they get stuck at step 4. When you ask people for feedback, you will probably get reactions that differ in the extreme.
When I was finalizing the name for my website building company, Yes Potential, I asked a group of trusted colleagues what they thought. The reaction involved eye-rolling and snickering (they are a very honest bunch).
However, I loved the name Yes Potential. It made me feel inspired. It reminded me that websites are not just about a bunch of code and pixels floating around cyberspace, but rather the conduit for the unexpected opportunities and connections that come your way when you have a great website. That excites me.
The fact that my “brand testers” did not appreciate the deep symbolism of my chosen name was irrelevant. Though my ego was a little bruised, my resolve was unscathed. And here’s why:
All brand names are essentially meaningless until we infuse them with their brand promise.
As a business owner, my resources are better spent building an incredible brand promise than agonizing endlessly over name choice.
As I was bravely enduring another snide comment about the name of my choice, I suddenly had a flashback to my childhood that made me laugh.
I was seated at the Shabbos table in my parents’ dining room in Sydney. We were hosting a family for the meal. I can’t remember who they were but I recall they had American accents. My parents told them that we had just made a big purchase which was now sitting on my Dad’s desk in his study: an Apple IIE computer. A personal computer in your home was pretty novel at that time.
One of our guests wise-cracked: “Does it taste good?”
We all laughed hysterically at the stupidity of the brand name “Apple” for a computer.
Close to 30 years later, I think we can all agree that Apple has been successful at investing impressive significance in a brand name that is otherwise stupid.
On a infinitely smaller scale, I’m already getting a lot positive feedback on my brand name, Yes Potential. And it’s not because it’s a brilliant name – it’s only because something in my overall branding is resonating with those people.
When I think of the businesses I’ve bought from recently, many have stupid, meaningless names that have been rendered brilliant by the greatness of their product and marketing: fiverr, Envato, Amazon, etsy, etc.
So if you are in the process of naming a brand or product or pet ferret or whatever, just do it. Pick a name, thumb your nose at the critics, and move onto the next stage of building your awesome brand.
This post is the first in a series called “The Joy of Done” – where I’ll explore overcoming the places we’re stuck in our businesses. If you’d like to read more posts on this theme, subscribe for my email updates.