Finding the perfect name for a brand is really tough. There are a number of factors that you have to take into account and there are no clear processes or formulas to create the unbeatable name. Follow these exercises we use at Bardo to organize your naming process and make sure that the name you reach is attractive and valid for your audience.

Exercise # 1: Think of names that belong to different categories

It’s really usual to start a naming process with one idea that seems to be unique and great. Our advise at Bardo is to expand limits and think of more names. If your original idea is really good, it will win. Naming is such a huge decision that you must try other alternatives before going all for one.

Focusing on these 7 categories and thinking names around each of them can be a good trigger for new ideas. The important thing during the entire naming process is stay open-minded. Think about the concept behind your brand, the values, the target, your personality, the channels you’ll use to sell your product, service or experience, the social media you’ll be publishing on and every other aspect of your brand.

Let’s explore 7 categories:

  1. Descriptive. Names that explain what the brand does. Examples: WeTransfer, Toys R Us, Google.
  2. Evocative. Names that use a metaphor or some figure of speech to express what is the experience or feelings the brand will generate. Examples: Nike, Patagonia, Twitter.
  3. Invented. The good thing about naming is that you are allowed to invent words. You can combine languages, translate words, mix things you like with sounds you like and so on. Examples: Kodak, Verizon, Xerox.
  4. Puns. Phrases, compound words, alliterations, ellipsis, onomatopoeia and spelling mistakes can also work for a name. examples: Dunkin’ Donuts, Tumblr, Pinterest.
  5. Acronyms. This one is simple: a series of initials that form the full name. Examples: IBM, UPS, DHL.
  6. Geographical. When brands are intrinsically related to the area where they operate they can use that geographical area in their name. Examples: Norwegian Airways, New York Life.
  7. Real names. Maybe the founders’ names or the name of someone they want to pay tribute to. Examples: Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Disney.

Exercise # 2: Think of trigger questions

At Bardo we use Triggers, a series of cards that are very simple and useful. They have questions that serve as triggers to think of new ideas. Some examples of trigger questions are:

  • What if the brand was a celebrity?
  • What if the brand was a verb?
  • What if the brand was somebody’s name?
  • What if the brand described your audience?
  • What if the brand was Beyonce?
  • What if the brand was related to religion?

All of them consist of taking the name out of context and putting it in another remote and random field. Many times, while trying to answer those question, words that would never have crossed our minds appear.

Exercise #3: Kiki-Bouba test

First: Which one is Kiki and which one is Bouba?

More than 90% of people agree that Kiki is the figure with sharp edges and, Bouba, the rounded one. This may be because of the position of our mouth when pronouncing them. Anyway this shows that there are some words that are associated with some shapes. Synesthesia? Maybe. Obviously, this is not 100% accurate, there are nuances. But it is interesting to take this test into account when thinking about a name.

Ikea: Kiki. Uber: Bouba. Both brands have different personalities. Bouba is usually associated with a more relaxed, easy-going brand and Ikea with an edgy and sharp one. None is better than other. They are just different.

You should combine these exercises. You can think of names within those 7 categories using trigger questions and then check which ones are more Bouba and which ones are more Kiki. It is not a step-by-step process that is going to take you to the perfect name. It is all about exploring ideas and looking for the name that best suits the brand concept, the audience, the values, the value proposition and, why not, the brand aesthetics.

Tip # 1: Check that the domain and users are available

Don’t leave it for the end of the process. As soon as you have some finalist names, look up the domain and the user names you’d like to use. See if they are taken and evaluate other alternatives. It is very frustrating to get to the winning name and only then realize that there are no domains available or that the one that’s free is much more expensive than you thought.

Tip # 2: Validate your naming

You need your name to be pronounced aloud and written without major complications. Of course, there are names that are sooo good that they can be difficult to write but you should know that you will have to work on teaching your audience how to write or pronounce that name. Talk to potential users, tell them the name, see what they think of it, if they think it sounds like another brand or if that word of phrase means something else. Validate. Always.