How to name your brand or product | Faye Brown | Skillshare

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How to name your brand or product

teacher avatar Faye Brown, Faye Brown Designs

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to the class


    • 2.

      What we will cover


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      Invent a new word


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Pairing words


    • 11.



    • 12.

      Using your own name


    • 13.

      Next steps


    • 14.



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About This Class

Naming your company or a product is often the first step to successful branding, but can also be one of the hardest to get right. Join me in this class to help you on your brand journey. 

We will explore 10 ways to go about naming your brand or product. I will give big brand examples of each option and discuss the pros and cons before talking about they might work for you. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Faye Brown

Faye Brown Designs

Top Teacher


Hey Everyone! Thank you for checking out my classes here on Skillshare. I’m a designer and animator living in the English countryside with my young family. After completing a Graphic Design degree in Bournemouth, I started my career working in London in motion graphics designing and art directing title sequences for TV and film. 10 years later I decided it was time to go freelance, shortly before we started our family. 

These days I work on a variety of projects focusing on my passions of typography and branding. Following the success of my first Skillshare class - The Art of Typography I’ve created a range of classes all aimed to help you guys in different areas of design, typography, branding, creativity, photography and freelancin... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction to the class: Hi everyone. Welcome to this class, all about naming your brand or your product. Before I tell you exactly what we're going to cover in this class, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Faye Brown and I'm a designer from the UK. I've got quite a few classes here now on Skillshare. A lot of them are on branding, and there's another two bite-sized classes in this particular series as well. But in this class, we're going to really focus on naming your business. It will also be really helpful for those of you who need to name a new product or a new range of designs, for example. But let's just take a moment to think about that famous Shakespeare quote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Whilst this may be true for Romeo and Juliet, it doesn't work quite so well in the branding game. Let's take this to the extreme, a company called Rose Designs sounds much more elegant than Spiky Plant Designs, for example. Yes, a brand name is so important. This class will guide you through 10 routes or techniques that are going to help you to come up with your perfect brand name. I'll show you existing brands examples for each of the options and we'll talk through the pros and cons before we work out how this might work for your particular brand. Coming up with your brand or product name is often one of the first steps you need on the branding journey. Don't let it be a stumbling block to creating a successful brand. It's important to get it right from the get-go. You'll need to download a worksheet or have a notebook at hand to write down answers to the questions that I'm going to pose. Don't rush this process. I'd suggest watching the class all the way through and then allowing yourself some time to let it sink in. After you've gone through the ten options, you'll probably have a good idea of which ones will work best for you so then focus on those. Successful branding is more than a brand name. There's many facets to creating a successful brand and I've got some other classes that will help you with other areas. But starting off with a great brand name can really help you shape your business and where you see the future of your brand heading. In the next video, I'll briefly go through what we're going to cover before we dive right in and get creative. I can't wait for you to join me on this branding journey. 2. What we will cover: Work for each possible root. There are 10 videos, which each focus on a different direction and you'll soon realize which ones might be relevant for you and work best for your brand. Or your new product, or new range. Unless they use the term brand in the videos, but all of this info can be applied to sub-products, or maybe even naming a band for example. So you'll find that you might end up mixing two of the roots together, and that's brilliant. So we will talk about that a little bit later on. The 10 directions that we're going to look at are: descriptive, evocative, historical, arbitrary, composite names, inventing a new word, geographical, pairing words, acronyms, and using your own name. Don't worry if you don't understand each of these terms right now, you will soon. With each possible directions, I will give examples, pros and cons, and pose a question or two for you to answer. Then you can collate these answers together for us to go through them together later on. 3. Descriptive: Let's start with descriptive, as it's quite a big options to talk about. You might decide to go down the route of finding a name that perfectly describes what your business or product does. Big brand examples of this would be PayPal, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Whole Foods, and Volkswagen, which translates to people's car. You immediately know what you're buying into and what to expect. These names have worked pretty well for these big brands but they aren't overly creative, which maybe your brand doesn't need to be. You might find using a descriptive word along with another word that's more evocative will work for you. One of my clients runs a forest school called the Muddy puddle club. The name is descriptive as it tells a story, it's fun, and it's inclusive, immediately makes you feel like you are part of something special. Think about how words can work together. When I started my printables at sea shop, I wanted printable in the shop title, but I wanted it to sound fun. Years ago, I thought about setting up a card design business called, Missprints. Thought back to that and added the miss to printables. This makes it a little bit more personable and a bit tongue and cheek with the word play. The pros of using a completely descriptive name are, it's instantly communicate your brand offering, and it's often easier to remember. The cons are that it's not usually creative and it might be more difficult to trademark. Let's work through your worksheet now as this first question really opened up a lot of possibilities for your name. I want you to describe exactly what your business does in plain terms. No adjectives, no fluffy words, just explain your business in the simplest way possible. The misprint bubbles that would be principal aren't designed for downloading and printing at home. This doesn't sound fancy. It just says what it does. Burger King would be Salzberg, as PayPal would be, allows people to transfer money easily across the globe. If it's a product, you use 100 percent natural ingredients, then write that down. But don't go into anything too emotional here. Words like unique, stunning, et cetera. Leave that to a later question. If it is difficult to easily describe your business and it might be that your business is too complicated. If you need help defining your brand then maybe check out another class of mine here it's called Define your brand, and that might help. Now here's another interesting question, have you spoke to any friends or family about your brand? Maybe your brand already exists, but you're looking to change the name. Ask them to describe your brand too. Don't give them any hints, maybe just limit them to under 10 words. All of these questions we ask, we will come back to at the end. Let's move on now to the next route which you could take, which is using a word or words that are more evocative. 4. Evocative: Evocative. I'm aware a lot of you on here might not have English as your first language. Let's just look at the dictionary definition of the word evocative, bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind. This might also be called suggestive. That brand name might suggest a feeling or action that the customer should experience. Nike, Amazon and Innocent smoothies are good examples of these. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. Starting out as Blue Ribbon Sports, the owners distributed running shoes, but in 1971, the owners wanted to manufacture their own shoes and needed a new name. They also needed it fast. Nike was agreed on, although not with conviction, but as we all know, the rest is history. Also, whilst a lot of people these days might know that Nike is the Greek goddess victory, is not like everyone might have known that association straight away. Whereas most people have heard of the Amazon River. Now the history of the brand name Amazon is quite interesting. Originally, Jeff Bezos wanted to call the site kid opera as an abracadabra. But after a colleague misheard, it, decided on thinking up other names. Even today, if you type in relentless dot com, browse dot com and awake dot com, all of those URLs will point to amazon dot com. He then decided he wanted to come up on top, like top of the old days of alphabetical searches. Thought of art. Eventually he decided on Amazon, which would keep his bookstore high up on the searches, but also create that sense of grandeur by naming his company after the world's longest river. The fact that there was an a and a zed in the word also creates a golden opportunity for the logo. Then we come to drinks company innocent, who use a 100 percent natural ingredients in their drinks. It's the perfect name evoking that feeling of purity, but it didn't come easily to them. It took nine months for the founders to get to that name according to their website. For awhile, the brand is known as fast tractor than hungry [inaudible] then nude than naked, and then innocent. Be comforted by the fact that these great brands often took awhile to reach a good name. One of my clients came up with a great names of their visual effects company. It's quite well known in the industry that clients will come in and get a coffee and then watch them work on a screen. One of the founders of this visual effects company was a big fan of the British indie band Blur. They had hit in the 90s with the song coffee and TV. The song name work perfectly for their brand names, coffee and TV was born. The name is both descriptive and evocative. It gives the client a feeling of what to expect when working with them, but also descriptive in that they do work for the screen. The pros to using an evocative name are voting unemotional response to your brand with your client. This can make them feel connected and relatable. It allows more creativity with the rest of your brand dim and it's easier to grab that URL. Although one word names are more difficult to get nowadays, you might have to add something on the end, for URL like studio. The comes out depending how corporate the brand is, some investors might need convincing on an evocative name. Make sure you live up to the promise. If Innocent drinks were suddenly exposed as not being quite so innocent, for example, it would say damage their brand image. Let's see how this can relate to your brand names. Think about this for a while and then answer this question. What feeling do you want your customers or clients to feel when they buy into your brand? Maybe you sell a product, how do you want that product to make people feel? Maybe you offer a service, how do you want your appliance to feel while she using your service? Now's the time to think of all those adjectives that could describe your brand experience. Again, if you do need any help with this, please do check out my other class to find your brand. 5. Historical: Historical can also be evocative. Nike is an ancient Greek goddess. Nivea comes from the Latin word niveus, meaning snow white which reflects in the purity of their brand image. There are quite a few companies who have used Greek or Latin influences, but you don't have to go back that far. Is there any historical references or people who have influenced your business? Take my friend's company Doris and Fred that she named after her grandparents and used her nan's handwriting as a starting point for her logo. Starbucks was inspired by a character in the book Moby Dick. Maybe think about literature, a book that's inspired you in your business in some way. Maybe you had a childhood experience that has led to your business idea, an old toy, a song, a game. The pros to using a historical name is depending on your brand. Something which relates to a time or object from the past can add a little bit of gravitas that can make your product or brand sound established and experienced. It could make up part of a great brand story. The cons, make sure you live up to the name and it does need to relate. Let's go to your worksheet and answer the next two questions. Has your brand got a historical influence? Now, don't look for answers that aren't there. If the answer is no, just write no. This root is probably not right for you. Now, for the bigger question, how did you come up with the idea for your brand? What was your influence? For instance, for Miss Printables, I was totally inspired by my young son and his imaginary play. Hence, the first product was food templates. It's not necessarily historical, but it's my influence. Think about yours and how that backstory can be incorporated into a brand name perhaps. 6. Arbitary: Arbitary. The dictionary definition of arbitrary states based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system. In terms of branding, it's choosing a name for your brand on the face of it does not relate to your product or service. The big brands that have used arbitary names include Apple, Orange, Camel, and Penguin. Apple sells computers not apples, but even arbitary names, whilst seemingly quite unrelated, can have hidden meaning or be a little evocative. According to Walter Isaacson, who wrote a biography of Steve Jobs, the name apparently came about after Jobs had been on a fruitarian diet and had just visited an apple farm. He believed the name sounded fun, spirited, and not intimidating. He could have easily gone down a more techie route like Microsoft took with their name. The pros to go down the arbitary route is that you are more likely to get a trademark for your particular industry sector. A random name might create intrigue for your customers. On the other side of the coin, you might have to work hard on your marketing to get that named stick with people and securing a one-word URL will be difficult. You might have to add on extra words like studio, designs, foods, etc. Let's get back to our worksheets. Coming up with a random name like this isn't an easy job. But I want you to just think of some words that for some unknown reason you've always loved seeing or hearing or have found associations with. I know this is tricky. Pause this video for a minute and have a little think. I will tell you mine, but I don't want to influence any thoughts you might have. If you aren't ready to fill up this question yet, just skip to the next video before I tell you my words. Press pause now or skip to the next video. My words are bubble, hub, blue, wave, float. A few years back, a few friends and I set up little wedding photography collaboration and we called it Bells & Bubbles. They get to use one of my favorite words in a business at one point. This route might not appeal to you, but it's a useful exercise as you might find you end up mixing an arbitary word with a more descriptive one for example. 7. Composite: Composite names are when you bring two words together to make a new word or two parts of words. Great examples are Intel, Integrated Electronics. Lego, from the first two letters of the Danish words leg and godt, probably pronounced that wrong, but that means play well and Microsoft microcomputer and software. Pros. Composites have a lot of plus points going for them. You essentially create a new word, which means getting trademarks and URLs should be a lot easier. Depending on how well the two words fit together, you are instantly showing your creativity and intelligence. The cons are actually coming up with a name like that is very hard. If a name isn't easy to read or say, then that can have an impact on your brand. So bear in mind readability and relevance. The name doesn't have to be two parts of words. Facebook, for example, creates a one-word brand name from two whole words. There isn't a particular question on your worksheet for this section. At the end of this whole process, we're going to go through all your answers and start highlighting keywords really stand out to you and at that point, you're going to see if there's any words that you can combine together to create something new and amazing. 8. Invent a new word: Inventing a new word. So here's a fun approach. Why not invent a totally new word? Brands this has worked for include yoga based, Lululemon. I don't know if I even say this correctly. But apparently the name came about because the founder believed Japanese people wouldn't be able to pronounce it. Which is probably one of the strangest reasons I've heard for a name ever. Another example is Haagen-Dazs. The two founders were of Polish descent, and both like the Danish language. You might assume this has a Danish translation. It doesn't. It's intended to sound foreign and particularly Danish, but it is in fact completely made up, and yet it seems to totally work. Rolex is another completely invented word. The pros to inventing a whole new word is that you'll get a great URL. You should have no trouble with trademarking and protecting that name. But the cons are your marketing will need to be super-strong to get noticed. You might be questioned over the name. So think ahead for that great answer. This is a tricky one to ask a direct question and just say, hey, invent a new word. Give me your best, but you know what, why not? Do it. Invent a new word just for the fun of it. Invent five, who knows where it might lead. You might need to give yourself some time on this. So over the course of the next couple of days, just try out and see what you come up with. 9. Geographical: I wanted to just take a minute to think if there are any places, countries, landmarks, or maybe even planets that have inspired your business in some way. Or maybe it's something more generic, like a love of the sea or mountains, for instance. Some good examples of brands using places are new shod, who opened our first shop in neo shod, Covent Garden in London. All silent pool Qian With that distilleries on the bank of a pool known as silent pool. I'd always assumed the name Marlboro had come from a location in the United States, but it actually got its name from the location of one of Philip Morris's cigarette factories on great Mobile Street in London. I used to walk around to work around the corner from there and had no idea until I started researching for this class. Cisco derives from San Francisco news in the San Fran, wine is often named after the region from certain areas of countries which can help its appeal like reoccur for instance. The pros to using a place in a brand name, that it can help with a brand story and give your brand context and meaning. It can give you a global appeal. The cons are that it might limit your reach. Let' say you call it a business Winchester yoga. Are you limiting yourself to Winchester? Maybe you want to limit yourself to Winchester. But if you have massive growth plans and think ahead, it also depends on the product when just a cosmetics wouldn't have the same issue as a yoga company. If he decide to relate a country name or state name to your brand, you're probably thinking big with a big global appeal, which is great, but you need to live up to the claim. Let's answer the question on the worksheet. Is ever place or landmark that has influenced your business in some way. Or maybe there is a particular place, it just feels like home. Write down a few places if you need to. 10. Pairing words: Pairing words. Coming up with a one word brand name, it's like hitting the jackpot. But it's not so easy these days. Get an URL for one word name will be almost impossible, so you may have to think about pairing two words together. Whether that's adding something like studio, associates design or topography on the end or whether it's literally placing two arbitrary words together. For instance, is taken as of the making of this class. There's nothing there, but a few links, but someone has grabbed that URL. is available, although it sounds like a very niche brand offering. You need to be careful with picking an arbitrary name that it doesn't start giving your customers the wrong messages. I will only take photos of biscuits, no cakes, just biscuits. You could think of to arbitrary words that come together. My friend Nicholas Jones has done this very successfully with her design and wedding stationary business named Gooseberry Moon, two arbitrary words, but they seem to go so well together and also reflect her brand image. A little bit later on in this class, we will start looking back at the words you've written down throughout this exercise and you might start to see some words working together well. Moving on to the next question on your worksheet, what other words could you use to describe your business? In this phase use words like studio, design, bakery, club, etc, anything that could potentially be added onto another word without diluting your message, but perhaps in fact enhancing it. Then use the next question to think of any other extra words that might have started wiggling around in your head, fruits, colors, animals, don't think about it too much. Don't analyze your thoughts, just write them down. The words might be totally unrelated, they might be completely inappropriate. But just use this space for a better mind dump. No one ever has to see this. We've only got two more directions to look at. Now the next one is acronyms. 11. Acronyms: An acronym is a word or name that's made up from initials that spell out a longer title. For example, KFC is Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are some companies where the acronym has worked so well for them that a lot of people don't even know what the initials stand for. So I didn't know what IBM stood for. It's International Business Machines. Did you know IKEA is actually an acronym? The "I" and the "K" come from the founders' initials, name initials. The "E" is from the farm where he grew up, and the "A" is the first letter of his hometown, and I'm sorry, I'm not going to offend any Scandinavians by trying to say those names out loud. So it's best that I don't. Brands using acronyms are all around, and most of the time, we never question what they might stand for, asos means "As Seen on Screen". So will an acronym work for you? I think a lot of this depends on what acronym you come up with. Does it end up spelling a word itself that can be easily spoken like IKEA? Faye Brown Designs would become FBD, which doesn't have a great ring to it. Also be careful that if your name gets shortened to an acronym or initials, even if he didn't intend it to, that it doesn't accidentally spell out something it shouldn't. Steve Howard's Information Technology would not be ideal. The pros points to using an acronym are they can make, potentially, a few longer words more catchy and impactful like IBM. It's quite a confident approach to go for an acronym route, so can make you sound more established than you are perhaps. The cons are that acronyms have, obviously, worked for some massive companies, but it might not be right for you. If you're in a creative industry, it might start sounding a bit corporate or tacky, for instance also securing the URL might be hard work. 12. Using your own name: Finally, we talk about using your own name as your brand name. This is probably most people's first thoughts, and then they start thinking of all the other ways that they could name their brand. Faye Brown Shampoo, sounds ridiculous. Even if we try our own names as a perfume, you've really got to have the right name to make that work. Faye Brown Eau De Perfume sounds like something I'd pick up from the market store. Doesn't quite have the same ring as Armani, Channel, Calvin Klein, et cetera. But for me, Faye Brown Designs works. I'm a one woman band, I worked totally for myself and having that name recognition worked for me as I had a lot of past clients and colleagues who knew me and my name. I don't have any grand plans for expanding or becoming a studio. If I ever do, I would probably go with a different name for reasons I'll go into. But let's think of some brand names who have used their founders names. James Cash Penney was the founder for, yes, you guessed it, JC Penney. Not a great middle name as well. Kellogg's cereal named after WK Kellogg, Ben & Jerry's was named after its founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Adidas doesn't come from the phrase, or dare dream about soccer, it's actually a composite word made from the founder's name Adolf Dassler. His nickname was AD and the das comes from the surname, Dassler. A lot of names in the fashion industry are associated with their founder; Channel, Stella McCartney, Tiffany, Kate Spade, Gucci, I could go on. The pros are; if you are the face of your brand, it can work well, it adds a personal touch and people feel like they get to know you too. If you have an unique name, you'll end up high in the search results. If you're well known in your field already, using your name will help people find you. The cons are; if you have plans for growth, selling your business, this would be a good reason to maybe not have your name as the main brand. Some companies like dealing with firms rather than individuals, even if you aren't actually a one man band and employ people, name the company after yourself, might create that illusion. This is probably more relevant in the corporate world. If you have a common name, it can be hard to stand out. If you don't want to be the face of your brand, this is possibly not the right route for you to go down. Last research in this class, I read one article about how using your own name can be seen as egotistical. Personally, I've never thought of this. What will make you come across as egotistical is the way you communicate within your brand and your brand message. Maybe you want to come across like that anyway. My advice would be, don't just use your own name because it's possibly the easiest choice. Really think about your reasons. My reasons whether I had past clients and colleagues who knew me well, I didn't have any plans to employ other people. I am the face of the brand, whether that's teaching here on skill share or meeting clients for design work. If I do ever decide to create a design site of my business or open a studio, I think I would come up with a new name and keep that slightly removed from my other work, like, teaching. I would also feel a little uncomfortable for any designers who might work at my studio if I called it Faye Brown Designs, takes away from their own contributions a little bit perhaps. Let's go to our worksheets and write down your full name, write down any maiden names or nicknames too as this might spark an idea. Try your initials with your surname. Basically, write down all permutations of your name possible. In the next video, we will start looking through all your answers and seeing what names can be created. 13. Next steps: We've now got to the fun bit. Yes. We are now going to add some more to this by going through all your answers and think about how they might form your brand name. I want you to circle, underline, or highlight all the words which really speak to you when you go back through your worksheets. Try not to bring reason into it and if word sounds boring, maybe don't use that. But highlight all those words that you really get a buzz from and if that's your own name, that doesn't mean you love yourself, don't worry. Something may have already cropped up in the exercise so far, that you think could work. Write any of those down on the second sheet in the bottom box. Now at the top of the sheet, write those single words down that you've highlighted, just dot them all over the page quite randomly. Maybe on their own they aren't working but let's try pairing some words together. Start drawing a line between the words that seem to go well together. Spend a little time on this and then write down the words together in the bottom box. Can any of those be made into a composite name by taking parts of the words to form a new word? This stage is the process should not be rushed. Ideally, you'll come up with about five potential names from this process. On the third sheet, it would be great if you could fill in the top box with a brief description of your business, or your product, or whatever you're coming up with a name for. Then underneath, write your five name choices. If you feel the need to give a brief explanation of your names below that, then take a photo or scan in the sheet, and post it in the project gallery. Ask for anything specific that you would like people's opinion on, maybe we can all help you finalize your name. I'm not going to ask you to let us know if your URL is available, but please do bear that in mind when coming up with the names, check to see what you might be able to get as a great domain name. Also bear in mind that you might need to trademark your business name or product and to have ownership on it. So you'll need to look into that for your own countries. In the UK, there's ways of checking trademark online in different sectors. You can do that through the website. If you still have any difficulties coming up with your name, then go through a couple of the different routes again, and go through the process again. There's probably a few of those routes that hit a chord with you and you think actually yet, I'd like to explore that more. So go into those in a little bit more detail and then just go through these steps again, and hopefully you'll get there, but do post up in the project gallery, and let us know if we can help you in any way. 14. Outro: I do hope this class has helped you and remember, if you do need a little bit of extra help defining your brands, then go through this class as it might help you really focus on what your brand is all about and who it is aimed at. There were two other classes in this bite size series, your brand personality and target market. They will help you with other aspects of your brand, too, so I hope you can check them out. They're actually a little bit shorter than this one. Please join my dedicated Facebook group, too, Faye's Skillshare Tribe. Feel free to ask any questions in there. Coming up with your brand name is often the first tricky step, so please let me know if this class has helped and I can't wait to hear all your wonderful name ideas. I'll see you in the next class.