Selecting a brand name is a very important activity for any business. It is so important that businesses pay naming firms and agencies thousands of dollars just to come up with a word (or possibly 3) that will define who they are and what they want to be.
Many people unfamiliar with the process of branding and naming assume that creative genius just pull unusual words out of thin air. But this could not be farther from the truth. Naming is very serious business.
Take a moment to think all of things are influenced by your brand name:
- Customer memory: how easy it for customers to remember and recall the name of your business?
- Customer service: Will your customer service agents or employees say your business name on a frequent basis?
- Your marketing materials: what domain name should you choose? Will your name look good on business documents?
- Positioning: what will you name your products and services? What happens as they change over the future?
- Search Engine Optimization: what will your business look like on Google search results? Will Microsoft Word auto-correct my brand’s name?
Suffice to say, creating a business name is not an activity that you want to downplay.
Surprisingly, thinking about the implications of a brand name was something that Alexandra Watkins, copywriter and founder of the “Eat My Words” naming firm, found was repeatedly ignored. Many business owners assumed that naming a brand was simply a creative exercise with the most creative names winning the prize. As a result, many business owners decided on brand names. But later found out that those names became obstacles to their brand’s growth.
Watkins argues that the naming process isn’t just art, but a strategy. Professional namers don’t just pull names out of a hat. Like anything else in business, it involves careful and strategic thought. Brand names are an asset, just like the employees and equipment used in a business. So they should be treated with the same respect.
In her book Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick, Watkins provides a short (76 page) guide to the principles behind a strong brand name along with a short description of how to create one yourself. Her book seeks to provide some of the basic principles behind some of the brand names we come to know and trust.
Forget the Silly Words, Simple and Memorable is Better
Most of us recognize good brand names when we see them. But often, we don’t take the time to focus on why. When we see Microsoft, Google, or visit website domains like GetDropbox.com, we often don’t question the principles that make these brands and website domains so memorable. Hello, My Name is Awesome seeks to explain how business owners can use those principles for their own brand. In her book, Watkins prefers simple, suggestive and memorable – over complicated. As she points out, complicated brand names are the keys to spelling, pronunciation or legal obstacles.
The principles discussed in the book are neatly summarized in the author’s “Smile & Scratch” test. This test, which consists of 12 letters put into two acronyms, embodies the principles of a good name, while also providing a filter for potentially bad ones. The “Smile” portion of the acronym focuses on 5 principles that should be found in a brand name, while the “Scratch” portion of the test focuses on the 7 principles that you should not.
After detailing what works and what doesn’t, Watkins then turns to guiding readers on their first steps toward their brand name. She begins by describing a creative brief (a summary of the goals, targets and positioning of your brand). Then she discusses the brainstorming process behind creating that brief. Hello, My Name is Awesome concludes with a short chapter on the process of undergoing a brand name change.
Is Hello, My Name is Awesome Worth It?
While this book is quite short (76 pages), it provides a lot of information that business owners (particularly startups and small business owners who don’t have a budget for naming firms) can use to brainstorm and evaluate potential brand names.
Hello, My Name is Awesome does an excellent job of demonstrating the principles behind a good brand name and impressing upon readers to focus on the implications behind the name they choose. Picking a name isn’t a matter of simply choosing something creative out of a quick brainstorming meeting (although it can happen that way). More often than not, picking a brand name is a strategic process that involves actively positioning your brand.
With all that said, Hello, My Name is Awesome does not go deeply into other issues of branding which help readers in developing their creative brief. The focus of the book is on on providing basic principles, not a detailed step-by-step guide, on brainstorming, selecting and then evaluating potential names for a brand.
If you have an established or developing brand, this book could be a worthwhile resource. If you need to develop a brand, read Hello, My Name is Awesome in conjunction with other resources to get started.
About the Author
Alexandra Watkins is the founder of Eat My Words, a naming firm. She can be found at EatMyWords.com, on Twitter @eatmywords and her book is available on Amazon. This review was based on a purchased copy of the electronic book.