Let’s Talk About… is a series of short publications where complex topics are discussed in an accessible and light-hearted format. Let’s Talk About… is presented as a case study of the ins and outs of the world of design for seasoned experts and newcomers alike, including those who may be undergoing the research process before engaging with an agency for future projects. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy this series of publications as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it.
So, you’ve decided to find a new name for a brand, either for yourself or a client. By now, you probably realized that the million-dollar idea you had for a name already exists. What now?
For this chapter of Let’s Talk About… we will be using Måneserad, a brand we recently collaborated with to create a new name and identity. Different agencies have different workflows for the things we do on a day-to-day basis, so our approach may be different to what you’ve experienced before.
In the case of Måneserad, the original brand name was JM Jewelry (JMJ). This posed several issues, such as a strong similarity to other existing brands which can make a business owner lose clients to competitors who use search engines to look up the brand’s name.
A great name is born when two ideas collide, either witty and catchy, formal and to-the-point, short and sweet, etc. How you find the two colliding ideas is up to you. In the case of Måneserad, we went with elegant and catchy. During the initial brief, we heard from the client that the inspiration for starting the JMJ project began with imagery of the moon. This was a great starting point but presented its own series of challenges: many brands already use the moon motif in their name and logo. So how do you use the moon for a name when the landscape is saturated with moon related names?
We started by selecting a list of concepts related to what we wanted the name to represent, such as Moon, hypnotized, lunar phases, selenography, among dozens of other moon-related terms and elements. Of this list, the combination of moon and hypnotized resonated and created an interesting concept. With these two words, we could start exploring.
At this stage, there are several things you can try. Combining parts of the two words (like FedEx), combining the two words in their entirety (like Facebook), misspelling a word (like Tumblr), using initials of different words or names (like FIAT), or creating a new word altogether (like Kodak). The key is choosing a name that is unique, easy to remember, and when possible, short.
Of the previous list, we chose to use a combination of two words with a slight twist: Using a language that was not English. With the two words that were chosen, we looked for translations that stood out. We eventually landed on Swedish, the words were Måne and Hypnotiserad and Måneserad was born.
Nowadays, there are additional tools like random name generators or A.I. powered name generators that can help you choose a name. In a following entry of Let’s Talk About… we will be talking about creating a logo, and to do this we will create a name using this method. Using an A.I. powered name generator, in a matter of seconds, we landed on the name HayBark. A quick search shows no brands are using this name (as of this writing). These tools don’t account for the human factor, but they can be great assets as a starting point in finding the base for a name that is unique.
What to avoid when choosing a name? When shopping for a name, always keep in mind your audience and industry, the name should be appropriate when considering these two factors. For example, using a last name for a brand’s name can work for a law firm or accounting firm (like Kirkland & Ellis), but may be seen out of place in industries like tech or children’s toy brands, though there are some exceptions. In addition, not every name, or last name, packs the same punch. Some names carry weight or roll off the tongue with style. Using children’s toys as an example once more, one of the most recognizable brands in this field is MATTEL, which is a combination of the nicknames of the two founders: Matt & El, so there are clear outliers to this “rule”.
In addition, a name should be unique, when possible, but this is not entirely necessary. Take for example the brand Dove. You may have thought of Dove – the chocolate, or Dove – the beauty products. Both brands are completely unrelated but share a name. When choosing a name, if the name exists for an industry that is completely different from yours, you may be able to get away with it, but it is best to avoid it.
Lastly, when you have selected a name, there are a handful of things that should be done before making the name public. One of these things is registering your name with different government agencies like the Secretary of State for your state, the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s Office, among others. Once this is done, don’t forget to register your name with the different social media platforms and secure the domain for your brand.