Being a design firm with innovation at heart, we work with a lot of start-ups to develop their new businesses and ideas. Throughout the year, we found one common mistake that startup founders often make when it comes to naming their brand. The mistake that founders often make is naming their brand after their product. As a result, when we develop the brand, we often have to rename the business entirely and develop a transition plan which is often costly.
While naming your brand after your product sounds intuitive, there are three main reasons why it's not wise to do so.
In the nature of start-ups often you have to adapt and change your business model or tweak your product as you gather feedback from the customer, the target market, and the public in general. There are often situations where the product morphed entirely that the product descriptive name is no longer appropriate and the founder is suddenly stuck with a name that's entirely irrelevant.
Businesses grow. At least that's what everyone aims for when they start a business. As the business grows, so does the product family. More often than not, a business would roll out a product family outside of the original core product. Having a brand name that's descriptive of the core product, becomes too restrictive as to how the brand can expand the product family.
3. Intellectual property
From the intellectual property standpoint, you can't trademark a name that's describing the product itself, and that's for a good reason. If an individual or a company is allowed to trademark a name that's descriptive of a product, this entity automatically stops the competition to sell the same or a similar product. This also means that if your brand name is descriptive of the product that you are selling, then you can't protect your brand name and it belongs in the public domain.
If the product doesn't dictate the brand name, how do we name the brand then? There are numerous naming strategies that we often employ to name a brand. We often use metaphors, aspirations, stories, and allegories to help our clients come up with a brand name. The most important part, however, is to always look at things holistically from the memorability aspect, target market response, and potential risk or rewards that a name can bring.
When we work with a client, especially in the start-up phase, we always provide guidance when they consider a name for their brand.