Names that can bring pictures to your mind can be easily remembered.
Wouldn't you love to have a company name that would be so embedded in people's memories that they could recall it years later?
Timberland name evokes images of hiking in a mossy evergreen forest.
That's the power of a visually evocative name - it brings vivid pictures to aid in memory.
No matter of what your product or service is, there's no excuse to not have a company name with imagery.
People will remember your name instantly because it has such strong associations with things that they can picture in their mind.
So name your company something that conjures up images - give them something to latch on to.
When people can visualize your name with a picture, it's much easier for them to remember than some unfamiliar word or acronym.
More examples of names with imagery: Range Rover (SUVs),
Target (mass merchandiser), Irish Spring (soap).
To get the most out of your name, strive for name with mileage your can build your brand around.
Names with legs provide endless wordplay and verbal branding opportunities.
Nestle has created a brand architecture that plays off the first syllable “nes”.
A strong theme can be extended to many elements of a brand like: taglines, job titles, company award names, conference rooms etc.
When you launch a product, you can't look into your crystal ball and know what the future holds.
But developing a naming theme early on can help you tremendously down the road.
Apple has done this well with the iMac, iPhone, iPad, iTouch, iCloud etc.If your name doesn't have a theme you can still extend it through the personality of the brand, as Ben&Jerry's has done: Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Liz Lemon, Chubby Hubby.
A recent Fast Company article revealed that 50% of every buying decision is driven by emotion.
That's the power of a name that makes an emotional connection.
I'm not surprised because it's hard to resist a love-at-first-sight names like: Fat Bastards, 7 Deadly Sins, Educated Guess etc.
More examples of emotional names: Obsession (fragrance), Snuggle (fabric softener), Club Monaco (clothing).
Now, let's talk about the opposite - names that make you scratch your head.
The 7 Common Naming Mistakes
When you're starting with a blank slate, don't curse your name with any disadvantages.
Every time you have to help people spell, pronounce, and understand your name, you're essentially apologizing for it, which devalues your company.
Unique spelling, nonsensical words and unfamiliar expressions may differentiate you, but just because it's different doesn't mean it's good.
There's a terribly misguided belief that unique equals creative, which equals great.
For a glimpse at seriously strange you need to look no further than the annual winners of TechCrunch Disrupt.
A breeding ground of awesome startups with not-so-awesome names.
As you already know, the SMILE & SCRATCH name evaluation test is based on philosophy: A name should make you smile instead of scratch your head.
A good way to remember this is "If it makes you scratch your head, scratch it off your list".So let's talk about what does the acronym SCRATCH stand for.
1. Spelling challenged
If you have to spell your name out loud for people, Siri doesn't get it, or it looks like a typo, it's a mistake.
Spelling your company name in a non-intuitive way isn't clever, it's lazy.
Sure, it's tempting to spell your name creatively, so that you can nab an available domain name.
But spelling-challenged will forever frustrate your customers, embarrass your employees and annoy journalists.
Having to spell your email address once would be exasperating.
But how many times in the life of your business will you have to spell your email address or URL for someone?Don't get cute with number either.
While it may work in texting and clever license plates, embedding numbers in a company name looks cutesy and unprofessional.
When you use numbers in your name you will 4ever have 2 spell it out.
For example: car2go - your goals is to have a name that you can say proudly, just like it sounds.
The true test to see if a name is spelling challenged is to see and hear how voice recognition software like Siri spells it.
Hijacking another company's original idea isn't good for your business reputation or for building trust with your customers.
Copycat names are lazy, lack originality and blatantly ride on a competitor's coattails.
Plus, because you could cause customer confusion you open yourself to trademark infringement, which can be very costly.
Another example of copycatted name is Twitter, I think we can all agree that names like Jabber, Chatter, Yammer were inspired by the name Twitter.
While those three names might not be cause for trademark infringement, they're not winning any award for originality.
Other copycat trends to avoid:
any fruit (apple and blackberry is enogh)
cloud (it's overused)
Don't get locked into a name that you may outgrow down the road.
A restrictive name will simply lock you in and limit your growth.
Plan ahead, and choose a name that will be a wide enough umbrella to cover your future products and service offerings.
Also remember to not use the same name for you company and product.
It can be confusing and shortsighted to name your company and product the same thing.
Although you may have only one product now, think about all the future products you will launch under your company name.
You company name should be an "umbrella name" that's wide enough to accommodate any product name under it.
If you're launching a product and company simultaneously, I suggest you name your product first.
You can expect your customers to remember only one name, so make it what they're actually buying.
More examples of restrictive names: 99¢ Only Stores (it outgrew the price), 24-Hour Fitness (some locations are not open 24 hours), Fast Signs (and its tagline "More than fast. More than signs.")
Annoying of course is subjective, but if you think about your company name from a customer's point of view, you can avoid causing frustration.
If your name appears forced, random, or grammatically incorrect - it's annoying.
If you invent a new word for you name, be careful that it doesn't sound unnatural.
Mashing two words together or mixing up a bunch of letters to form a new word rarely appears or sounds smooth.
Some natural and organic brands that use this technique end up with names that sound like they are full of chemicals (e.g. Activia, Envigia).
Simply adding or dropping a vowel or two at the end of a real word or word root is the laziest way to coin a name and almost always sounds forced (e.g. Innova, Natura, Portfolia, and Evolva).
Exceptions would be Nautica and Expedia - these are pretty names that sound like real words and are no-brainers to spell.
Also be careful with grammatically challenged names, they are unprofessional and a hge turnoff to customers and sets bad example for children.
The most known example would be probably Toys "R" Us, which in seven short letters manages to violate at least three basic rules of English.
Tame means flat, descriptive and uninspired.
They don't challenge, excite, or mentally stimulate us.
Descriptive names are boring because they require so little imagination.
While descriptive names say exactly what your product or company is, they reveal nothing about the personality of your brand.
You just sound like everyone else, making your name indistinguishable from competitors and therefore exposing your lack of creativity.
Nowhere is this more relevant today than cloud services: Cloud2b, Cloud 2.0, Cloud 365, Cloud One, Cloud Web etc.
And because they're so predictable, chances are that those names have already been taken, making is difficult to get them trademarked.
Descriptive names only make sense if your customers are trying to find information quickly, and you are offering multiple choices e.g. FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx International Next Flight and FedEx Ground.
More examples of tame names: DocuSign (electronic signatures), Kmart (mass merchandiser), AcuPOLL (research).
6. Curse of Knowledge
No one is more of an expert on the company you are naming that you.
But when communicating with potential customers who are unfamiliar with your world, insider knowledge can become a curse.
We can't unlearn what we know, so we find extremely difficult to think like a newbie.
We talk in acronyms, internal shorthand, code words and industry jargon - all of which sounds like a foreign language to outsiders.
Don't alienate potential customers!
According to Wikipedia, the curse of knowledge is described as "a cognitive bias to which better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.
This essentially means that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it.
As a result, we become bad communicators of our own ideas.
7. Hard to Pronounce
Hard to pronounce, not obvious, unapproachable names are just like shooting yourself in the foot.
Most of the European fashion labels are challenging to pronounce: Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy.
Most Americans don't want to make fools of themselves trying to pronounce foreign names.
I also heard many Americans mispronounce the omnipresent coffee chain as Preat-A-Manager.
These names are fine and easy to pronounce in their countries of origin.
Names derived from foreign languages are unapproachable simply because most Americans don't know how to pronounce them.
People don't want to make fools of themselves trying to pronounce these foreign names.
Another thing is to do not spell or design your name with all capital letter because people will be confused by the pronunciationExample: TCHO chocolate - is this supposed to e short for "Techno" or is the "T" silent? - We will never Tknow.
Naming a company is probably the first step in the branding process, but brainstorming names doesn't have to be hard.
In fact, it is a blast when you know the secret to coming up with great ideas.
You will have much more success finding your company name if you follow these guidelines.
So use the SMILE & SCRATCH technique to evaluate your name ideas, rather than trying to randomly choose the best names.