Imagine you have a time machine and could go back to the 90s (or even earlier). What do you think would happen if someone asked you a question and you suggested that you ‘Google it’?
What has become commonplace in the 21st century – to the point where a brand name is now a verb – was once a completely made up word that nobody was familiar with. And yet it stuck. Google is arguably one of the most globally recognized brands in the world, and you’d be foolish to think that their name didn’t have something to do with that.
Retention is one of the most important aspects of choosing a brand name, but it’s also one of the hardest to get right. For one thing, there aren’t as clear cut guidelines to follow. A good name, one that will stick in your mind, often possesses a little bit of star quality, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that helps it stand above the rest.
There are several linguistic aspects that help names pop. Employing one or more of these can boost your name’s star power in a major way. (Edit to talk about memory more).
Words that rhyme or have a repeated letter can be easier to remember. Using the Google example, the double G helps the brain break up the word into two segments, with a bit of a sing songy sound. Our brains like patterns, and a repeated sound helps your brain differentiate your brand.
Find words or pairings with a rhythm or semantic flow, which helps to avoid leaving someone with a hard stop. This tends to create alliteration, such as Freaky Friday or Sunny Shores.
If you’re looking at an abstract name, think about how it aligns with a real word in terms of its vowel and consonant structure.
Circling back to Google, it does have a similar sound and feel to the word ‘Goggle’, meaning to look around in wonder. Adding in the extra ‘o’ gives it a playful, quirky sound but still mimics that feeling of the original word, making it more familiar for your brain.
Our brains love patterns – and all three of these tactics are great ways to trick your brain into falling in love with your name.
You probably are already aware that it is important for your name to be both pleasing to say and to hear (if your name isn’t, you should probably find a new name). But an added bonus is that having a beautiful-sounding business name will also make your name easier for people to remember.
Sticky Letters and Word Segments
Having certain letters and letter combinations within your name can also improve your names retention.
Names that contain uncommon letters such as J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y and Z can encourage retention. These letters aren’t found as much in western languages, which makes them more more distinct and memorable.
Similarly, certain word segments can also increase retention. Suffixes like -uzz, -ax and -ube stick out in our brain. This is probably due to their relative rarity, as well as their interesting phonetic properties.
Scientists have found that humans remember information better when they associate each piece of information with specific imagery. So much so, that the term visual imagery actually refers to a widely used study technique. .
This observation also has implications for business naming. A name that employs specific, tangible imagery is going to be easier for people to retain than a name that is vague and conceptual.
Compare “Small Place” vs “Zesty Lemon”. One is a concept, while the other is an object.
It’s hard to picture “small place” in your mind. With “Zesty Lemon” not only does your mind naturally paint a picture, it engages your other senses as well – smell, taste, and touch. This only further cements the image in your mind, which will allow you to retain the name much easier.
One mistake that a lot of people make when naming their business is choosing a name that generically describes the products or services their business offers.
3D Print ExpressSmart Cloud MarketingEasy Plumbing
On paper, these names are actually good for retention. Using keywords that people are familiar with make your name easier to retain.
The problem with these names is that they are they are the obvious choice. Anybody could think of them, and so they lack distinctiveness. This leads to some big issues:
That’s why when naming your business you need to strike an equal balance between familiarity and originality.
Compare these two names:
3D Print Express – Obvious. Service Offering (3D Print) + Value Proposition (Express)vsHoloprint – Unique word combination, distinctive, fits the category, yet intriguing (what is a holoprint?)
Which name is more memorable? If you were looking for a 3D printer, you might click either Holoprint or 3D Print Express. But what if you weren’t looking for a 3D printer? Which name makes you want to learn more?
Great business names don’t just identify your business, they help inspire and convert your customers. So don’t go to the default. Find a name that sticks out in a memorable way and you could find yourself at the top of the competitive heap.
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