Hello, My Name Is Awesome
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Hello, My Name Is Awesome

How to Create Brand Names That Stick

Alexandra Watkins

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📖 eBook - ePub

Hello, My Name Is Awesome

How to Create Brand Names That Stick

Alexandra Watkins

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About This Book

Every year, 6 million companies and more than 100, 000 products are launched. They all need an awesome name, but many (such as Xobni, Svbtle, and Doostang) look like the results of a drunken Scrabble game. In this entertaining and engaging book, ace naming consultant Alexandra Watkins explains how anyone—even noncreative types—can create memorable and buzz-worthy brand names. No degree in linguistics required. The heart of the book is Watkins's proven SMILE and SCRATCH Test—two acronyms for what makes or breaks a name. She also provides up-to-date advice, like how to make sure that Siri spells your name correctly and how to nab an available domain name. And you'll see dozens of examples—the good, the bad, and the “so bad she gave them an award.” Alexandra Watkins is not afraid to name names.

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The 5 Qualities of a Super-Sticky Name
How do you react when you see or hear a name you like? You smile. We enjoy names that surprise us, entertain us, and make us feel smart because we get them.
Names that make us smile are infectious. They are the ones we talk about, tweet, and repeat because we like other people to smile, too.
I love seeing the grin on someone’s face when I say that I named a Spanish language school in Colombia Gringo Lingo. I get the same reaction when I mention the robotic vacuum I named Neato. And most people laugh out loud when they hear about the Church of Cupcakes.
Imagine if before people were even customers of yours, they loved your product or company simply because they loved the name. Maybe they’d even pay to buy a T-shirt with the name on it. That’s the power of a name that makes people smile.
Remember the philosophy that the SMILE & SCRATCH name evaluation test is based on: A name should make you smile instead of scratch your head. SMILE is an acronym for the five qualities of a great name, which I cover here. (SCRATCH is the flipside, which we look at in the next chapter.)


The 5 Qualities of a Super-Sticky Name

Ideally your name should have all of the above attributes.

Suggestive —

Evokes Something about Your Brand

A name can’t be expected to say everything, but it should suggest something about your brand. Not in a descriptive way, like Fast Signs, but in a creative or metaphorical way, such as Amazon.
The name Amazon suggests enormous. Founder Jeff Bezos chose the name because, to him, Amazon conjured up images of one of the world’s largest rivers, and he envisioned his company being unfathomably large.
While Amazon.com famously started as an online bookseller in 1994, the company expanded rapidly into other areas. By 1999 the company was selling music, consumer electronics, video games, software, home-improvement items, toys and games, and much more. Of course, now it offers everything from lingerie to lawnmowers. And Amazon drones may one day be delivering our packages. No matter what they do or sell in the future, the name Amazon will always fit. Can you imagine if it had been named BookBarn.com?

Suggestive Coined Names

I have great respect for anyone who can invent a clever name that suggests something about the brand. Some of my favorite coined names are Dreamery, Groupon, Pictionary, Cinnabon, Chillow, Pinterest, Chuggernaut, and San Franpsycho. These names, also known as portmanteaus, work well because they cleverly marry two words together, are intuitive to spell, and easy to pronounce. Easier said than done. (More on that in the next chapter.) Other coined names that work well are those that suggest a positive brand experience. Jamba Juice, Twizzlers, and Zappos all live up to their fun, high-energy names.

A Suggestive Name Can Be Inspired by Your Brand’s Personality

When you write your creative brief (Chapter 4), you’ll jot down a few adjectives that describe the personality of your brand. You can use those words to spark name ideas. For instance, if you want to convey that your brand is adventurous and rugged, think of metaphors and phrases that fit those words. SUV names do this incredibly well. Explorer, Expedition, Range Rover, Yukon, and Denali all suggest rugged adventure.
Ad agencies are notorious for suggesting creative prowess through their wonderfully strange names. Some of the most imaginative are Victors & Spoils, Captains of Industry, The Glue Society, and Wexley School for Girls. These are certainly more interesting than traditional agency names like Foote, Cone & Belding.

How to suggest Trust or Credibility

While your business should certainly be trustworthy and credible, trying to cram any form of those words into your name can sound disingenuous. Luckily, there are many other ways you can convey that you have a quality company or product. Adding a strong secondary word in your name is an excellent solution. For instance, the company that makes the robotic vacuum Neato is named Neato Robotics. Other modifiers you can try are Global, Industries, or Group, which can instantly add heft to you name. Other ways to convey trust and credibility include customer testimonials on your website, a guarantee, professionally designed promotional materials, and an active social media presence. Actions speak louder than words.
Leaf (electric car)
Kickstarter (crowdfunding)
Brawny (paper towels)
Ninja (blender)
FitBit (activity trackers)

Meaningful —

Resonates with Your Audience

It’s important to make sure your name is meaningful to potential customers, not just to you. Most of the time when people encounter your name, you won’t be there to explain it to them. And they won’t have the time or interest to read about it on your website or the back of the box.
No one needs to explain the meaning of the name Norcal Waste Systems. It’s unfortunately descriptive and has awful visual imagery. Not exactly something you would want to have emblazoned on a T-shirt or water bottle.
When the company was formed in 1983, the name Norcal Waste Systems was fine for the commercial businesses they served. But twenty-five years later, with hundreds of thousands of residential garbage-collection customers, the name was far from appealing. Waste had an especially negative meaning to the environmentally conscious communities it served in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. What these customers cared about was recycling, composting, and reclaiming useful materials before they were buried in a landfill. Ironically, Norcal Waste Systems was an industry leader in all of these areas. But no one would ever guess that based on the name.
In April 2009, Norcal Waste Systems changed its name to Recology, fusing the words recycle and ecology. This progressive new name evokes the company’s environmental shift, resonates with both residential and commercial customers, and is a source of pride (instead of embarrassment) for their 2,100 employees.

A Meaningful Long Name Is Better than a Short Meaningless Name

It’s better to have a meaningful name that people can remember than a meaningless name they can type in five keystrokes. The name of the online home furnishings store Previously Owned by a Gay Man is loaded with meaning and is much more memorable than a shortened version (PreOw) or its abbreviation (POBAGM).
The longest name I know of belonged to one of the entertainment law firms that represented Michael Jackson: Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf. I’m not sure how meaningful such a long name could be to their clients, but until recently, when they shortened it to Ziffren Brittenham LLP, the names of all ten partners composed the name of this twenty-three-person firm. I would love to have seen how they crammed that onto a business card.

Do Not Name Your Company after yourself

While it may evoke warm thoughts to your friends and family, your personal name is meaningless to your future customers. They don’t know you yet. Your name evokes absolutely nothing about your business, expertise, or brand personality. And if you’re like many of us, your name is either hard to spell, hard to pronounce, or hard for people to remember. Why would you want to have a business name with the same difficulties? (I suspect you know this, which is why you are reading this book.)
Unfortunately, most consultants and service professionals (architects, attorneys, photographers, professional speakers, etc.) use their own name by default because “That’s what everyone else does.” Most don’t know any better, lack creative inspiration, or simply let their ego get in the way. This is a huge missed opportunity. Fortunately you are reading this book and won’t make the same mistake.
Tejal Topiwala is a talented home stager and interior designer in Toronto. For most people in North America, her name is intimidating to pronounce. She had the foresight to know that it might be a barrier for people to pick up the phone and call if they were unsure how to pronounce her name. And of course her name wouldn’t distinguish her in any way from her competitors. We branded her company Paprika, with the tagline “Spice up your space.” This new identity recognizes her flair for color, lends itself to wordplay, has beautiful imagery, and is a fantastic conversation start...

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Citation styles for Hello, My Name Is AwesomeHow to cite Hello, My Name Is Awesome for your reference list or bibliography: select your referencing style from the list below and hit 'copy' to generate a citation. If your style isn't in the list, you can start a free trial to access over 20 additional styles from the Perlego eReader.
APA 6 Citation
Watkins, A. (2014). Hello, My Name Is Awesome (1st ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/116510/hello-my-name-is-awesome-how-to-create-brand-names-that-stick-pdf (Original work published 2014)
Chicago Citation
Watkins, Alexandra. (2014) 2014. Hello, My Name Is Awesome. 1st ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. https://www.perlego.com/book/116510/hello-my-name-is-awesome-how-to-create-brand-names-that-stick-pdf.
Harvard Citation
Watkins, A. (2014) Hello, My Name Is Awesome. 1st edn. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/116510/hello-my-name-is-awesome-how-to-create-brand-names-that-stick-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Watkins, Alexandra. Hello, My Name Is Awesome. 1st ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.