Every brand started somewhere. Not all were conceived from a spark of inspiration. In fact, some very nearly never made it and could have been something completely different. Take Google. “I’ll Backrub it.” That’s not something you could ever hear yourself uttering is it? But Backrub was its original name before someone had the foresight to step back and change it to Google.
Then there’s Audi. Any idea where that originated from? Well, Latin is often a favourite source of inspiration for many brand creation specialists and Audi is actually Latin for ‘listen’. Fits well with creating cars that suit the needs of the customer, doesn’t it?
Well I never!
Starbucks? Named after a character in Moby-Dick. Lego? Inspired by ‘leg godt’, Danish for ‘play well’ and, also Latin for ‘I put together’ (by sheer coincidence, insists Lego). Volvo? Another Latin one that means ‘I roll’. And what about Blackberry? Bizarrely it got its name from to the shape of the keys on the keypad resembling the surface of the blackberry fruit.
These are all huge internationally-recognised brand names for incredibly successful companies. At their inception, though, they would have been scribbled on a pad somewhere and needed confidence, buy-in, development and more than likely shedloads of money thrown at them until people grew to love and remember them.
Take a break
So, when creating brand names from scratch, never discount anything. Ever. Why? Because something that’s not right one day, the next can be a stepping stone to a name that is. You have to drive down plenty of cul-de-sacs before you arrive at the right name. It can be mentally exhausting, too. Go away, make a brew, come back later. Spend an hour in the gym. Go for a pint. Trim the hedge. Chances are that whilst you’re doing something totally unrelated, inspiration will suddenly strike. So, always note everything down before you’re distracted and it disappears into the ether. Evernote and Notes apps are an absolute godsend for this.
A name’s only half the story
Does the name suit the nature of the product, the culture of your company and appeal to the personality of your customer base? When creating brands, I often shortlist a few I really like and then focus on them. Explore and refine the candidate names. If they don’t work, move on to the next one. I often find that a strapline or positioning statement comes to me naturally at this development stage. Straplines, that sit under a brand name or logo, are a great way to make a simple, but important, statement about your brand. They are also a good yardstick for evaluating new brand names. They can make or break.
This is the stage where I usually present the candidate names to the client, along with all the ones that fell along the wayside that might still trigger something interesting. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Once the list of names is whittled down to a manageable size, that’s when a Trademark Search is required to check whether any are currently trademarked within the relevant classifications for 45 specific categories of goods and services. It’s a good idea to think ahead when doing this as you might want to diversify in the future, so also include any categories you may wish to expand into.
Let it go
You can’t be precious at this stage. If it’s gone, it’s gone. Move on. At the end of this process, it’s always a nervous moment seeing what comes out of the funnel. Hopefully, we’re left with several candidates that are unique and really excite me and, more importantly, the client.
Before, anyone gets too giddy though, I strongly advise all my clients to consult an Intellectual Property specialist to ensure everything is legal and above board. I’m a creative not a lawyer.
It’s tremendously satisfying though when you finally see the finished logo being used every day and then developing either traditional, digital or social campaigns to support them and help them fly. Gives me a proper tear in my eye, so it does. Where’s my hankie?