Wall Street Journal – “How to Create a Brand”

Creating a great brand name is almost half the battle in establishing your company or your product. But getting there involves the kind of creative thinking that might be outside a small-business owner’s purview. If you’re having trouble, branding experts say the first step is to pinpoint your strengths. Why are you the best? And what do you deliver that’s unique? Then, consider the customers whom you’re targeting and what they value most, such as social responsibility, authenticity or customization. Then, think about how you can best express these principles effectively through words.

Here are the three best ways to come up with a brand name:

1. Take inspiration from everywhere. Write down the first few ideas that come to mind when you think about your business’ service, product and personality; try using symbols, metaphors and word variations, says Michelle Adelson, owner and creative director, of brand agency Copia Creative Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif.

That’s what Dan Kim, chief executive of Red Mango Inc., a frozen yogurt franchise in Dallas, did while trying to name the flavors of his frozen yogurt and iced tea drinks. He wanted names that would give customers “an emotional experience” and appeal to their sense of adventure. For a tangerine-and-mango yogurt, he combined the flavors with the word “pandemonium” to create Tangomonium. For iced tea drinks, he wanted customers to hear the “tea” sound when they order, so he named drinks Fanteasia (a wild berry hibiscus tea) and Mysteaque (vanilla black tea with hints of bourbon flavor). “We embrace having fun with the names,” Mr. Kim says.

2. Make your brand name memorable. “If it sounds like something else, it’s not going to be strong in the marketplace,” Ms. Adelson says. The founders of Bonobos Inc., an online-only men’s apparel retailer in New York, wanted a name that was whimsical yet reflected that their clothing was clearly for guys, not gals. So they named the company after a great ape, an endangered species that’s pronounced bo-NOH-bos, not BON-oh-bos. While some customers end up mispronouncing the name or asking quizzically about what kind of animal it is, it’s an opportunity that Andy Dunn, chief executive and co-founder, relishes. While saying the name correctly, he mentions that the company also has donated $15,000 in the past year to a bonobos sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This gives anyone an “excuse to talk about who you are beyond your product,” Mr. Dunn says.

3. Make sure it matches your company’s mission. Robbie Vitrano, a founding partner of Naked Pizza in New Orleans, wanted to differentiate his take-out and delivery-company’s name from the buzz words surrounding the organic, healthy or green industries, since they don’t necessarily work in appealing to a wide variety of customers. He should know. In 2006, the original name of Naked Pizza was the World’s Healthiest Pizza. It was just a little too preachy-sounding, Mr. Vitrano says. It didn’t bode well for a company trying to franchise and court investors. “It was less customer-friendly,” he says. “It was a bit egotistical. It was a little too much about us.”

Leslie Homan, designer and founder of Femme Metale Inc. of Corona, Calif., makes edgy rock-n-roll jewelry for women. She wanted the company’s image to be strong, chic and feminine. So, she played with the word, “metal,” and the French phrase, “femme fatale.” It clicked for her: “Femme Metale.” The company’s original name, Superstar, didn’t seem as cutting edge; it “was very junior and didn’t say anything about what I was doing,” she says. Today, her jewelry line is sold at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, and Ms. Homan counts Cheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera and Kate Moss as clients. “I think you have to look into what makes your brand significant, different and interesting,” she says. “What would make you stand out in the marketplace?”

By, Raymund Flandez

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