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Effective Marketing Starts with your Brand Name

An unfortunate occurrence happened to one of the best known brands in the United States when they attempted to reach out to international markets. “Got Milk”, a heavily endorsed campaign to get more people to drink dairy, translated their famous brand name slogan to Spanish and started their advertisement in Mexico. Unfortunately for them, the translation turned out all wrong: rather than ask the consumer if they have milk, the translation asked them if they are lactating – a funny, but completely inappropriate marketing technique. Not only was the company ridiculed, but they lost a huge opportunity to be understood by the Mexican market as a whole. Consumers didn’t understand the brand or their intention.

I’ve had numerous conversations in the past with entrepreneurs and savvy individuals who want to start their own business and ask for my input. I always tell them the same thing – once you have figured out what your business will do, the next important step is to place an emphasis on picking the right brand name. A brand name is the first impression granted to your potential clientele and if it fails to be understood or grab their attention, you have just lost a customer and money.  This goes beyond the name itself – if your logo or font is sloppy or unattractive, if it’s unclear about the direction or service provided by your company, you’re losing on tremendous potential.

The reality is that a fresh new business cannot afford to lack clarity about what it offers its customers; it is not a huge brand that is already well known and understood by the masses. Even McDonalds started off as “McDonald's Bar-B-Q” so any passersby could clearly understand that they are a restaurant. They only changed the name to “McDonalds” once the momentum was going and the town was already familiar with their service. There are some great examples of companies that have managed to make link their brand name to their service or product, some of my favorites being Fiverr – a service community where everything is sold at $5 and Burger King – a fast food seller of mainly burgers.

So what makes for an effective brand name from a marketing stand-point?  There can be numerous ideas and thoughts, but these are my personal guidelines:

  1. It is properly connected to your service or product. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the product has to be a part of the brand name, but the identity and feeling has to be inter-linked. If your company sells children’s toys, the brand name shouldn’t sound like it may be a restaurant. Similarly, fun-sounding words should be used for fun products/companies, tech words for tech-based services, and so on.
  2. The brand name is not offensive in other languages. Avoid situations like the unfortunate story of “Got Milk” which will either cause huge embarrassment (and financial toll) or force you to completely rebrand in order to reach out to international markets. A tool like Hidden Words from NameRobot will help you in this regard. The service will quickly check for any possible issues in foreign languages and identify swear words.
  3. The brand name is unique. Your brand differentiates itself from others in the field just enough that it manages to stand out, but is still understood as a company from that particular niche. Developing a unique brand name requires talent and creativity.  The NameRobot tool I mentioned above can also help by guiding you with their brand name generators.

All in all, picking the right brand name is the first step to an effective marketing plan for your company. The development of a brand name demands research, effort, and testing and should not be a decision taken lightly.