Testing and refining your brand name: Finding the perfect fit

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By Angela Gerard at Squadhelp.

Establishing an engaging brand identity in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business world is critical for success. 

An essential aspect of any brand name is that it acts as both an identifier and sets the atmosphere surrounding your experience with that name. Yet selecting it can be a daunting task that takes careful thought, consideration, and testing.

This article explores the process of finding that perfect match through testing and refining techniques with real-life examples as illustrations of this essential process.

Setting the scene

Imagine a small tech start-up company struggling to gain traction due to an underwhelming brand name: “PayNow.” While descriptive, this name failed to evoke excitement or set itself apart from competitors. 

Realising they needed to change, they invested in extensive market research and testing before rebranding as “ZapPay.” 

With instantaneous popularity from their target audience and investors alike – their rebranding effort marked a turning point, propelling their success even further than anticipated!

Introduction to brand naming

Selecting an effective brand name is critical to building a lasting identity for any organisation. 

Here are a few considerations and examples you should keep in mind:

Clarity and memorability:

Create an easily pronounceable name that stands out, such as Coca-Cola, Nike, or Apple. 

  1. Reflect brand values and personality: Involve all stakeholders when developing brand values or personalities in the name selection process.

  2. Brand name and personality alignment: When creating the brand name for your company or product, or service, ensure it matches its values, mission, and personality. For example, Innocent Drinks is known for its fresh and healthy image, while Red Bull stands out due to its energy and vitality.

  3. Differentiation or Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Select a name that distinguishes your brand from competitors and highlights its USP (unique selling proposition). Examples are Uber’s modern approach to transport and Airbnb’s modern approach to accommodation services, as examples of distinctive yet eye-catching names that stand out.

Basics of name testing

Name testing can play an essential part in assessing the success of brand names. 

Here are a few steps and examples:

  1. Linguistic and cultural considerations: Conduct extensive market research to ensure the name you select does not trigger negative associations or miscommunication in target markets like Latin-speaking regions where “no va” means “doesn’t go.” For example, Chevrolet faced difficulty when marketing its Nova model there. This is because “N va!” translated directly means “doesn’t go.”

  2. Feedback from focus groups and surveys: Focus groups and surveys provide invaluable feedback that reveals how well-received and appealing a brand name is. Before finalising its brand name, Netflix conducted exhaustive testing with target audiences to ensure relevance and resonance with them.

Analysing competition & tactics for generating audience reach

Conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis allows companies to recognise opportunities for differentiation and audience targeting and will provide critical insight for growth and success. 

Here are the steps involved:

  1. Recognising competitors: Conduct research and analyse competitors within your industry or niche. Take note of their brand names, messaging strategies, positioning techniques and brand presence. For added insight, look beyond direct competitors by researching companies from related industries who resonate with your target audience as potential allies.

  2. Target the appropriate audience: Understand your target audience’s demographics, interests and preferences to create engaging campaigns for them. Then, customise your brand name to reflect their hopes and needs. 

  3. Unexpected tip: Conduct qualitative research such as interviews or focus groups, to gain insight into your target audience’s emotional connections with specific brand names.

Audience testing

Audience testing provides invaluable insights and refines your brand name, so it resonates with target customers. It also allows you to select a brand name that resonates with your target market. 

Here are some best practices:

  1. Surveys and online polls: Conduct surveys or polls to collect quantitative information regarding consumer perceptions and preferences about your brand name. A representative sample from your target audience should ensure accurate results. 

  1. Focus groups and interviews: Focus groups or interviews should be organised to explore participants’ emotional responses and associations with your brand name and encourage open discussions to uncover nuanced insights or potential improvements. 

Through audience testing, Google discovered that its original name, “Back Rub”, failed to resonate with its target users. So it ultimately chose the name “Google,” which exuded playfulness and curiosity and aligned perfectly with its brand vision.

Audience testing also played an instrumental role in creating Instagram as we know it today. The founders tested various names with users before selecting one that conveyed instant and intimate sharing of moments.

Trademark Research

Conduct thorough research to ensure the name you wish to trademark is legally available and trademarkable. An unexpected tip would be consulting with a legal professional, as they can guide you through the complex world of brands.

Initiate an extensive domain search before selecting your chosen name, as this could prevent potential issues. If an exact domain name is not available, consider variations or creative alternatives. 

Selecting the optimal brand name requires careful thought and strategic analysis. By understanding primary brand naming principles, conducting extensive name tests, performing competitive analyses, and seeking audience feedback, you can refine and find a unique identity for your business. 

Don’t forget that choosing an engaging and memorable name could pave the way to long-term success and leave an everlasting impactful mark with potential target markets.

Squadhelp is the world’s largest platform for company naming and branding. 

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