The Name Game

May 29, 2019
- Longform
Author - Katherine Fox

Whether you’re just starting out or going after a rebrand, the pathway to finding your brand’s name is more than just an exercise in semantics; it’s a process marked by getting to the answer of the question Shakespeare posed by way of Juliet: What’s in a name?

On the most basic level, names are simply words that we ascribe meaning to. But we can look to any brand and know that it is so much more than that.

Take a gander at Google, Nike, and Instagram. Yes, these are giants in the world of business, but it’s interesting to track their origins and chosen names. Nothing is random; each name is directly tied to some component of the company, whether it is the history, functionality, or even the way in which they want to make you feel.

Nike is the name for the Greek Goddess of Victory and the swoosh signifies her flight—with a pair of Nikes on, you can do just that. Google comes from “googol” which means 1 followed by 100 zeros, a name that plays homage to Google’s mission to provide innumerable information to every single user. Instagram is a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram” to swiftly communicate the ease in which individuals can connect and share images.

And Funkhaus? It’s our very own portmanteau: a piece of our creative director and founder’s last name, Funkhouser, and a direct nod to the Bauhaus movement. Much like the tenants of the Bauhaus, we create with function in mind, bringing together the forms of design, technology, and content to deliver projects that work to solve each client’s needs. Plus, it’s a bit fun and whole lot of Funky.

Now before you jump into a brand name generator, hear us out, because we think there’s power with entrusting individuals who bring some distance, new perspectives, and expertise to the game. We’ve had quite a few naming projects cross our desks, which means we know a thing or two about answering that very Shakespearean line. Read on and then drop us a line.

Harness your brand’s story and voice.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it millions more: everything starts with your brand story—especially your name. You can’t have a name that is just a random word tied to a product or business offering. For your name to hold any ground it must work in conjunction with your brand voice and identity. It’s how people will ascribe and associate meaning, and will enable you to craft a solid brand narrative. Dig in to your history, mission, work—you name it (no pun intended).

Think about what you want to say.

When it comes to your name, what are you trying to convey in terms of perception and definition? How do you want your audience to feel when they come across it? Maybe your brand’s mission is one marked by strength and fortitude. Choose words that speak to that. Perhaps you want individuals to understand the mission of your brand. Find a name that nods to that.

Explore the landscape.

See what’s out there in your competitive space. Not only will you come away with some valuable information in terms of the larger landscape, but you will also be able to find nodes of a name to break through the noise and focus on what makes you unique.

Try new things. But when in doubt, sound it out.

Obviously you can’t come out with a name that’s pure gibberish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play around. Drop vowels, mix up the spelling, try some rhymes, and play with cadence. But make sure you go through and sound it out. Share it with friends, family, other colleagues. Ask them how they’d pronounce it and go from there. It’s a must that people understand how to say it dutifully.

Have some fun.

Don’t be afraid to throw some crazy ideas out there. Naming is a lot like poetry: you’re telling a story with consonants and vowels, so you should feel excited and invigorated to push into new directions. Sometimes the left field ideas are the ones that lead to the big wins.