How to build a strong brand name in 6 steps

# The challenges of finding a strong brand name

When you're creating a new company, finding a good name will probably be the step that is the most difficult. You don't want to end up with a name that another company already uses, with a meaning completely different from what you thought or even worse a name that nobody can pronounce (hello Ikea's furniture). Not spending enough time brainstorming a brand name, or going with the first choice that feels 'ok' will be a big mistake. You're risking having to change your brand after months of work, and once your communication is already on track. You will lose time and money, for sure nobody wants to be in this situation.

Why I'm saying that it's the most difficult step?

You will find quickly that most of the names you already thought are already taken. Every year it's thousands (if not more) businesses that are created. And they all have the same issue: finding a name.

So after thinking of some fancy ones that you will likely find are already taken, you will start trying to find some that describe your business. After that, when you will have no hope left, you will try to invent one to be sure that at least this one will be available.

And even after that desperate move, you will probably run to the closest bar with the other founders to try to find the inspiration inside a refreshing and cold glass of beer. Or alone if you are the only founder, that's way sadder.

Let me tell you a secret, your process sucks. There are way more techniques than just guessing that you should add in this complex equation.

Before making the mistake to jump into this leap of faith, let me introduce you to the process we used with our team. I created it after spending hours gathering information on the subject.

# Our magical process

When I got ownership of creating a process for our team to find the name of our new company, I was not sure where to start.

Because of the Covid-19, our team was working remotely and split between different countries and time zones. That's sucks when you have to organize a brainstorming session and being able to exchange feedback on proposals quickly.

To be able to do so we needed a simple, strong, and efficient way to exchange ideas, give feedback, vote, keep track of the proposals, etc. So forget about a chat system, terrible idea... We also wanted to include everyone into this task, and not just a few people or only the founders, so the brand name will be something meaningful for everyone.

Also, we didn't want to spend months to find our new brand name, and we all had a lot of work to do on the other hand. So each of us was having only a few hours here and there to work on the task.

Our goal: find a name in a week. SPOILER, we nailed it!

# 1- The list of resources

I started by creating a list of a few resources to provide context and inspiration to the team members who didn't use this exercise.

Here is the list:

# 2- Spreadsheets are your best friend

The second step was to create and fill a spreadsheet about what's describe the company and what the company wants to share and represent.

Everyone collaborated on this, it helps us to make sure that the company values and core concepts were clear. That was very helpful for the next step of this process as a list of inspiration and guidelines.

Here is our spreadsheet:

Open the spreadsheet in a new tab

You have to read this spreadsheet vertically and by column, there is no horizontal connection.

# 3- The first round of name proposals

Like I said before, a spreadsheet is your best friend, and it's a very efficient tool to being able to collaborate on this kind of task and keep track of every proposal.

I divided this spreadsheet into 3 big families:

  • The name proposals
  • The Psychological brand name factors
  • The Practical brand name factors

Here is the spreadsheet we used:
The columns grouped into "Name proposals" are fixed for horizontal scrolling. To see the full spreadsheet with all the columns, open it in a new tab.

Open the spreadsheet in a new tab

Take a look at all these columns, looks a bit scary and too much no? They are the most efficient way to see which proposals are strong and which are weak.

At this step, we only needed to fill the psychological and practical brand factors for the most upvoted proposals. The goal here was to brainstorm, so I didn't want to block the creativity of anyone because it was the early stage of the process.

Surely some people got a bit too enthusiastic in the research of the domain name availability and didn't follow the rules. But hey, rules also exist to be broken right? And it was their time not mine, so nevermind.

# 4- The first review

We decided to review the most upvoted proposals by doing a video call meeting. That was the most efficient way to interact quickly together, argue why we liked or didn't like this or this proposal, and what should be the direction for the next round.

We decided to go mostly with a mix between "expressive" and "descriptive" brand name. We agreed that it was the best way to drive the company values and represent the ideas we wanted to share.

# 5- The second round of proposals

Instead of continuing to do random proposals, we decided to focus only on one concept: "simplicity of growing/developing your business". It was matching all the feelings we wanted to provide with our new company (relief, liberty, creativity, and confidence).

To optimize our time and because the next review was the final one, we decided to focus only on names that had the .com domain available.

And this time all new proposals needed to have the psychological and practical brand factors filled.

Here is the spreadsheet we used:
The columns grouped into "Name proposals" are fixed for horizontal scrolling. To see the full spreadsheet with all the columns, open it in a new tab.

Open the spreadsheet in a new tab

As you can see some people didn't follow the rules about filling the psychological and practical brand factors. Or focusing only on "expressive" and "descriptive" brand name proposals. Again... They are annoying but hey, I love them anyway.

# 6- The final review and selection

Another video call meeting, and this time we had to leave with a name. We didn't really like all the new proposals, it was not bad but nothing was speaking to everyone.

We brainstormed quickly then realized that there was one proposal that everybody liked and flew under the radar in the previous review.

Lightflow: an expressive brand name that got only 2 stars. The reason we missed it came from the spelling, which includes a different meaning of the name than the one we wanted.

That's actually why you should do some brainstorming out loud, cause that's how we knew how to fix it.

We didn't want to talk about "light", we wanted to talk about "Lite", which moreso drives the idea of simplicity and easiness. Do you see the difference here?

That was it, Liteflow, what a sweet and powerful name, matching almost every psychological and practical brand factor.

It appeared to us like evidence, and we decided to go for it.

This is the reason why you should include at least two reviews and rounds of proposals in your process, cause sometimes you can have something right in front of your eyes and not realize the power of it right away.

# Conclusion

This article explained to you how we got our new brand name, which I love a lot by the way. This process might not be the right for you, but hey, there is no right process to find a strong brand name. You will have to make your own, but feel free if you want to reuse some part of this one if it can be helpful or inspire you.

This article didn't focus on our brand values and core concepts, sorry. I will keep that for another article 😉

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