All forms of copywriting can be fun and creative, but there are two types I love best: in-depth articles that I can really get my teeth into, and creating brand names. Funnily enough, both are at the opposite ends of the copy spectrum.
When writing a lengthy article for a magazine or blog, your hours are spent crafting and refining long sections of prose. You’re making sure every sentence is the best way of communicating your message and entertaining or informing your reader, whilst conforming to your brief and any style rules your client has set out.
But with brand names, the process for a freelance copywriter is very different. In this case, your hours are spent coming up with individual words. Words that are unique and memorable. Words that stand out. Words that communicate what your client is selling and align with their brand values. It can be very challenging. But it’s also a ton of fun.
Before creating a brand name, I need to get to the heart of my client’s business and customer base. To do that, I ask four main questions…
- What is your brand about?
- What are your values?
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want your name to communicate?
Once I have answers to these questions, I have my framework to get started. However, there are plenty of other factors that both clients and copywriters need to consider when generating brand names…
These days, the internet is vitally important to the growth and success of a business. Most businesses have a web presence, so brand name originality is far more important than it was pre-internet. Nowadays everyone’s competing for prime placement in Google’s search results.
Before search engines and the internet, two businesses with the same name operating in different industries was unproblematic. They’d be advertising in different publications and one customer base was unlikely to even know about the other. Now that the whole world is connected via the internet, a quick search of Google will bring up both businesses. They now find themselves competing with each other even though they’re not actually competitors, and they have to implement SEO activities and paid ad campaigns to achieve dominance over the other in Google’s search results.
Of course, originality isn’t easy. There are billions of businesses out there, millions of them with websites. I often find that when I come up with a great name for a client, a search of Google reveals it’s already taken. If it’s a word in the dictionary, chances are someone’s already found it and used it. Sometimes your best option for a truly unique brand name is creating a new word.
After all, it worked for Google themselves, just as it did for NatWest, Ribena, eBay, Walmart, Lego and all the products with the “i” prefix churned out by Apple—iPods, iPhones, iPads etc. All of these are invented words transformed into popular brands.
It might be that a brand name already in use is still the best name for your company. If that’s the case, find out as much as you can about the other company with the same name. If it’s a different kind of business and it’s not very well known, your brand could end up eclipsing it.
For instance, the entire world has heard of the 2013 Disney animated movie Frozen. But how many people have heard of the 2010 horror film Frozen? Or the 2005 psychological thriller Frozen?
Still, if you want to go with a brand name that’s already in use, you do need to consider…
Fortunately, you cannot copyright a name, which is why there are products and companies out there with the same name. However, some businesses apply for trademark protection instead. While I’m no expert on trademark law, if a brand name becomes a trademark, it’s essentially out of bounds and you can’t use it. If you do, you could get sued for trademark infringement.
So, when I Google a possible name, I ask these questions:
- Is the name already in use?
- Is it trademarked?
- Is it a different kind of business?
- Is it well known?
Overly complex names with lots of words just don’t catch on. If you want your brand name to be memorable, it needs to roll off the tongue, increasing the likelihood of your brand spreading via word of mouth. Catchy one or two-syllable words often make the best brand names, because they’re so quick to say. Three-syllable words or phrases also work well, but any longer than that and your brand could struggle to find its place in the market. It’s not the end of the world, of course. Not every business wants their brand name to be a globally recognised phenomenon. But it’s a fact that the most popular brands have short, simple names.
Think about all the big brand names that you know. You’ll find that nearly all of them are one, two or three-syllable words and phrases: Ford, Ikea, Shell, Colgate, Best Western, Netflix, Amazon, Coco Pops, Facebook, Burger King. The list goes on.
In my next copywriting-themed blog, I will offer some further advice about brand name development by looking at a selection of good, bad and truly ugly brand names.
If you’re starting a business or launching a new product/service and you’d like me to create a catchy brand name, please contact me on 07411 331721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This website has further information about my services and rates, and my online portfolio has a variety of samples in order for you to get a feel for my writing.