“What’s your fashion brand name and the meaning behind it?” As a designer, it’s a question you will be asked repeatedly at interviews. Your answer should never be “it’s just a name” or fashions (even worse; fashionz). The name you settle on for your brand not only becomes an extension of it, but also plays a crucial role of reinforcing your brand’s value. It’s the first impression you’ll make with the market, and we all know this industry judges the book by its cover. It’s this reason that choosing an excellent name, that fits your brand DNA like a glove, is challenging and time-consuming. Hey, finding a name that’s memorable, smart and meaningful will not be a cakewalk. Hopefully these tips could make it a little easier:
Who will say your name?
Figuring out what makes your target audience tick will lead your naming activity in the right direction. Ever wonder why sports brands such as Puma and Nike choose such short names? It’s a reflection of predilections of the segment they want to appeal to; speed. So, are you urban, youthful, avant-garde or sophisticated? Define that and then find a term that appeals to the predispositions of that group.
We’ve established that it should be thoughtful and a representation of you and your audience. Now you should develop a strategy to achieve this. Start to answer questions such as, ‘what do I want to accomplish with this name’? this can be to portray your key traits, values, insights or differentiation points. You’ll also answer the question, ‘What type of name do you want to develop’? Are you leaning to the eponymous, descriptive or downright kooky brand name? Write down this list of standards and the will help guide the next step.
Brainstorm and do your homework.
There is a high possibility someone already thought about the idea you had for your name. Thus, generate at least 10 possibilities that could work with your vision. You could invite a few people to help with this if they are able to stick with your criteria. Once you’re done, test it out. Can people pronounce it or even remember it after they’ve been introduced to it? Then, figure out if the URL and social media handles are available. You want Google to find it hard to find your suggested name. That way you’re the only one that pops up. Most importantly, find out if someone has registered the business name with your local government. Just because you haven’t seen their signage doesn’t mean someone hasn’t beaten you to the punch.
There are several ‘formulas’ that are commonly utilized to generate a name:
- The ‘Named after the designer’ shtick.
- The ‘Helpful name’ that designates what you do.
- The ‘Didn’t see that coming’ name which takes a word of context.
- The ‘Visual name’ which defines an image or experience.
Before you settle on an option, think about what you would do if you had to pick between an average, dull or uniquely named company? Unique shows creativity and industry leader, average just sounds as one of the herd and a poor name just wouldn’t be up for consideration, or be remembered for that matter.
*Side bar on using your name*
From Calvin Klein to Alexander Wang, it’s normal to use your own name in the fashion industry. It can come across as a distinct personality and a sense of tradition. Plus, it’s a clear indication the brand has a personal story; which consumers love. The disadvantage of this your name should already command a large following. The other downer about this is, if at some point your brand grows to the point that investors come on board, your name becomes a primary asset to the company. That means, you could lose the rights to your own name if you decide to quit, start up a different project outside the business or are forced out. You can see some designers that endured this fate here.
Sidestep gimmicks and naming faux pas.
There are some naming procedures that, for some reason unbeknown to us, are popular and just won’t go away. these include, and are definitely not limited to, taking vowels out, misspelling thing, using a different language when it doesn’t influence your design or isn’t a target audience of yours (we’re pretty sure they don’t speak it either). Oh, or getting caught up in a trend that won’t be relevant a year down the line. (Anyone remember FCUK?) You can find more things you shouldn’t do when it comes to naming your brand here.
Copyright and trademarks
This works in two ways. Firstly, ensure the name you’ve finally settled on doesn’t infringe on another brand’s copyrights or trademarks. Otherwise, you’ll either wind up in court or forced to do a rebrand just when you were getting into your rhythm. Secondly, protect your name to ensure there aren’t competitors creeping up on you; stealing your hard-earned idea.
SMILE and SCRATCH tests
CIO of brand creation agency – Eat My Words, Alexandra Watkins, promotes these two tests to help you determine if your brand name will flourish. SMILE (Which stands for simple, meaningful, imagery, legs and emotional) looks at the assets your name should have.
On the other hands, SCRATCH (spelling, copycat, random, annoying, tame, curse of knowledge and hard to pronounce) are the qualities you shouldn’t have. Pass these tests and you’re on your way to an unforgettable name.
Considering you may have this name for a long time, some caution will come into play. However, don’t let this cause paralysis. Set a realistic deadline and follow these steps to get your naming show on the road. There’s logos, colour palettes and other branding processes that need your attention to enhance your brand even further. It’s worthwhile arduous work, and if done well you won’t have to do this again for a long time to come.