Backwards Branding

Traditionally when big marketing teams get together to create a new brand for a new product, service or company, they start with their positioning, value proposition, target market, draft messaging, etc. Then they start a search for a name that encapsulates as much of this as possible. The name (with logo) that will one day be shorthand for the brand promise. In fact,may individual entrepreneurs follow much the same steps, though not nearly as formally nor in such depth. Nothing wrong with this methodology. It has worked many times before and is well covered in college marketing courses.

Except it takes a lot of time.

And most of the initial names that are explored are already taken, especially if they are in a dictionary. Even a very big dictionary. And those names are often trademarked or otherwise protected by a phalanx of lawyers around the world. And popular high level domains for them are not available – except sometimes at nose-bleed prices.

So why not play heads-up and reverse the process? First find a short list of names that are provisionally clean worldwide. Names that are unique and original and come with no baggage. Many an executive has told us “I will know it when I see it” about naming. But guess what? When you see it and know it that is because you relate to it about something in your past. Which almost for sure means it is taken – unless it is able to be recycled by some lucky chance.

Start instead by making up some unique new names. Easier said than done unless you have some creative wordsmiths on your team. And even then, how will you convince upper management who are used to making conservative boardroom decisions?

The trick is to not present them with just one name. First find a short list of potential names. Create some provisional draft positioning – maybe even graphics, and find a way for all involved to spend some time savoring the names. Hearing them spoken. Seeing them in big graphics. Reminding them that so many of the mega big brand names of the world are not dictionary words – Sony, Google, Toyota, Pentium, Kinkos, Fedex, Tesla, Xerox, iPad, Exxon, Gucci, Porsche, Forever21.

Legally available affordable .com domain names for sale

Some of the best naming compliments we have had are to the effect of “your names sound like they belong in the dictionary”. Exactly. That is the difference between a professional set of namesmiths with good linguistics skills and a set of amateur domain squatters with long winded generic words that cannot be trademarked, or are too abstract to easily brand.

So to start with the name and work backwards, you still need a short list of trademarked checked names. You can hire an agency to make you such a list (we all have our own internal databases to work off to expedite this), or you can sometimes shortcut the process with a known selection of names by searching for domains for sale – especially if they are known to have had some level of trademark checking done.

As a starting point, see our offerings at Great .com domains for sale.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, International Naming, Naming Resources, Retail, Sustainable Brand Names, Trademarks

Naming Articles

Brand insider articles from an experienced marketing team.

Oct 2021: The devil is in the trademark details

Mar 2019:The Power and Value of a Trademark

Jan 2019:4 common branding mistakes

Oct 2018: You named it What?

Linked In

Share this page on LinkedIn:


See his industry naming commentary (where he takes a critical look at names) via the blog on this site