Choosing the name for our brand Apto may have been the longest, debate-richest decision process we’ve had with my associates. I’ve been picking up 10 tips I’ve used myself or learned during this experience, which might help you to accelerate and optimize this process.

1.Define your Goal:

Your activity is a crucial factor to take in account when looking for a name. You’ve probably noticed that businesses such as services or web tools often use names that try to clearly reflect their unique selling proposition by combining keywords.

e.g: Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, CrowdFire…

On the other side, luxury fashion brands or local businesses generally follow different guidelines: abstract or person-related names for the first one, geographical connection for the second.

Nevertheless, these criteria are not a necessary condition for a good chosen name: Twitter being one good counter example.

2.Verify languages:

If your business is intended to clients worldwide, be careful about potential mistranslations that might occur in some languages.

Personally I simply use Google Translation to test names. It’s quick, simple to use and quite reliable in comparison with some other translation websites.

While finding a name for your product, check other languages to avoid mistranslations with a simple check on @Google Translation! #branding Click To Tweet

3.Make lists:

Make a shortlist of names that sound and look good in your opinion, and write down the reasons why they do. Indeed, you’ll see soon enough that your they share common characteristics in their orthography, the way they sound or the underlying message they convey. You can then narrow your search to names fulfilling those criteria.

4.Check domains:

Obvious point to deal with, but verifying available domains is a step you don’t want to miss once you came up you’re your shortlist. Available domain names in .com will be often hard to find, but don’t worry, there are many possibilities offered to you: domains in .co or .io are good options that digital companies / products like to use. If you are a local company, you might see that your city name is an available extension!

5.Verify Hashtag

Check domains is one thing, but a simple brand-related hashtag will surely simplify your online promotion work.

After creating APTO, and although we checked the word in many languages before without any problem occurring, I soon realized that “apto” is a common Spanish abbreviation for “appartemento”. A long word that Spanish people avoided on twitter or instagram by using the hashtag #apto. This single fact complicates our work on social media, as users tend to use the #apto hashtag with their instagram pictures or tweets, making our search and the use of users generated content a much harder process.

Checking available domains is necessary, but checking potential hashtags will surely simplify your online promotion work. #branding #naming Click To Tweet

6.Trust first impressions:

You might brainstorm for hours and dig deep to finally find a name, which will eventually not appeal to your ears. Well, that’s already a sign bad enough to put this name out of your shortlist.

But don’t throw it away: good ideas often come from previous bad ones.

7.Try languages:

The name APTO means “adapted” in Latin. This corresponds to our willingness for a short name, with an abstract meaning / pronunciation at first sight which can be exported worldwide, but with a story behind that can be explained, creating a bridge between the brand and the products. Languages can also appeal to a certain segment of customer.

e.g : French-inspired names for luxury / wine / fashion & apparel markets.

8.Do not think democratically:

Names are subjective, and put without context external opinions will fast become a wrong decisional factor in your creative process. A brand name will appeal to consumers when they can easily establish a link with the corresponding logo and products.

So don’t waste your time sending surveys to your entourage asking for their opinions: rather keep your creative team as small as possible, and once the name is chosen, get everyone involved. You are the one who will live with this name everyday, so better be comfortable with it.

Names are subjective: don't waste your time sending too many surveys & asking your entourage, rather keep your creative team small and involved. #naming #branding Click To Tweet

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Whether being at the earliest stage of your company’s life, or ready to take a new turn with your business through re-branding or product launching, daily working load can make you easily loose perspective on where our brand currently stands. Mastering your brand positioning will help you keep the “bigger picture” in mind when making decisions, hence giving a framework to your actions and bringing coherence between them.

1.Know where your brand stands.

Your eyes are stuck on your computer screen reading your emails, you hold your cellphone next to your ear around 2h a day, and your mind is only focused on the workload waiting for you. All your sense are turned toward one single goal: successfully bring your new product, brand or company on the market. But did you take the time to stop, take a big breath and take some height? Visualizing from above everything that is going on, and answer these simple questions : what do I do? For whom? What makes me unique in what I do?

A Mission Statement will serve you as a motto that should be framing every actions you do. Click To Tweet

The answer to these question should lead you to summarize what your company really stands for, and have the first draft of your Mission Statement: one sentence resuming your activity, your market and your core values. You don’t want to be part of the numerous companies with nebulous mission statements such as “We want to be the business of choice for our customers”, showing only low understanding of their market and clients. A Mission Statement will serve you as a motto that should be framing every actions you do. Write it on your screensaver, on the wall in front of your desk or tattoo it on your arm, whatever suits you! But don’t ignore it.

2.Think about future.

If you are a fresh entrepreneur building its company, you are likely to have only one or a few products/services to offer, which define the basis of your positioning. All your efforts and attention are focused on this current offer, and you should continue to do so. But take a moment to think about the future: do you already have clues of what could come next? What would you like your next products to share with the current one? What will you intend to build with your brand’s portfolio? The same questions can be asked in the case of a re-branding, which often comes in times where you are willing to change the perception of your brand from customers. In both cases, your brand positioning is very likely to evolve along time. But these changes will need to be built onto strong pillars, defining the essence of your brands. That is why questioning yourself about the future of your brand, by transforming your current Mission Statement into a “Vision” Statement, can help you see more clearly what values you want to base your brand on, for now and later. Changes will need to be built onto strong pillars, defining the essence of your brands. Click To Tweet

3.Define your strengths, and claim them.

Differentiation is a keystone for success. But it needs to be well communicated to be understood, recognized and remembered by your customers. Take the necessary time to analyze your competitors, and underline the spots where you are or can be better. On the other side, don’t ignore your weaknesses! They will help you adapt quickly when competition grows and prioritize your development goals. Knowing your strengths seems like an obvious advice, but few brands actually show real concerns into communicating these strengths through their core identity. The power of names, logos and colors is often underestimated.

4.Know your customers (and be true to yourself).

It is not that easy to draw a line between “who do I want my customers to be” and “who my customers really are or will be”. Knowing your customer is not rocket science, but it should be base on tangible, valuable data. Whether you are starting your business or willing to give it a change, having precise insights about your current and future customers will not only help you building an coherent brand identity, but also an efficient marketing and sales strategy. So if you already have customer data, analyze them right now! If not, surveys, interviews and focus groups are in my opinion still the best way to know more about your clients. It is time-consuming, sometimes frustrating or disappointing in terms of results, but always helpful. Here are some good tips given by SurveyMonkey to learn how to build efficient survey. I can only recommend the SurveyMonkey tool to create online surveys. I used it many times for my brand to get quick customer inputs, and build up market studies. Analyzing the segments of your closest competition is an other way to have a more accurate idea of what your core customers look like. Once you have analyzed the data, you’ll be able to categorize your customers according to different characteristics: demographics, geographics, psychographics.

Demographics :

>> gender >> age >> income >> education Demographic data are the most basic and tangible information you can get from your customer, that you will easily collect through simple forms and statistics (newsletter lists, website analysis,…). They are necessary but not sufficient to define an efficient and accurate target group.

Geographics:

>> location Geographic characteristics are often useful for local businesses or businesses aiming an international market, thus needing to pay attention about cultural insights. (naming, meaning of colors,…)

Psychographics:

>> lifestyle >> interests Psychographics are intangible date, hence harder to pull out. But they are very significant in terms of consuming habits and behavioral relation to a brand. e.g. : eco-responsibility / traveling habits / interest in technologies / physical activity…etc.

Demographics are necessary but not sufficient data to define an efficient and accurate target group. Click To Tweet

You should now have a clearer picture of your typical customer segment. A common mistake is to try pleasing everybody: this will only lead you to failure. Finding your niche and targeting a specific segment of customers will help you gain faster authority, and contracts.

5.Hire (and brief) a designer

You have now made your part of the work: knowing your brand, and most importantly what message your brand should convey and to whom this message should be delivered. Now comes the time where these strategic inputs should be transformed into an awesome corporate identity, giving to your brand a strong visual appeal that people are going to like and remember. And this is a work that you don’t want to underestimate. Indeed, people tend to narrow most design works to a bunch of technical skills and some good taste in aesthetics, at the service of a project that should be wrapped up in few hours, or maybe one day or two. The work of a  designer starts by a complete understanding of the brand he will be working for. In few words, a good designer should know the previous points almost as well as you do. But it is your task to clearly bring him clear input about your vision and your project. Only a good brief, combined with an efficient communication, will open doors for a very good work.

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