How to Create an Inviting Brand Name
By David Placek, President and Founder, Lexicon Branding
So you’ve decided you want to build your brand identity around approachability. But how? Every aspect of your brand’s execution can be used to help communicate an inviting presence, from visual aids like font choice, colors, and imagery, to the tone of voice used in website copy and social media. But there’s one element to building an inviting brand identity that marketers don’t always think about or leverage: the brand name. What are the naming strategies that help increase a brand’s approachability?
Of course, not every brand aims to be inviting, such as the high-attitude energy drink company Monster Energy®, high-technology brands like Raytheon and General Dynamics, or brands built on exclusivity like Louis Vuitton. But for brands that prioritize approachability, here are some of Lexicon Branding®’s top“Dos and Don’ts” to create an inviting brand name:
1. Add a playful or lighthearted element.
Everyone loves to laugh. And for good reason: laughter floods the reward center of your brain with dopamine, which prompts deeper focus and better long-term retention. Humor can make content more engaging in the moment and more memorable after the fact. And when your customers see that you don’t take yourself too seriously, they can feel more at ease.
Here are some of our favorite tips:
• Try out word blends, like Pinterest (a blend of pin and interest).
• Recruit the /k/ sound. It often sounds playful or lighthearted, as in words like quip and picnic.
• Utilize repeated or partially repeated syllables, like dingdong or hubbub. Research shows that these have a humorous effect. A great example of this is the food delivery app GrubHub.
• Explore uncommon words (say, quizzical or behoove), arbitrary words that seem surprising in your category (like Tangerine® for a bank or Anagram® for healthcare), or unexpected spellings (Krispy Kreme, Lyft).
Lexicon Branding took this approach when developing a fresher, more appealing name for UserLeap. By exploring uncommon words, we created their new name Sprig: a short, simple solution with a light-hearted feel.
2. Deliberately welcome the customer. Don’t be aggressive.
It may seem obvious, but there is nothing quite as inviting as a genuine invitation. Saying “hello” and “welcome” goes a long way toward making your customers feel at home.
We have a few tips for a welcoming brand name:
• Play with words like “hiya,” “hello,” “hey” as part of the name (example: HelloFresh).
• Bring in the customer as “you” or “your” (like Beyou skincare).
• Use the same informal language your customers use or descriptions they can relate to (like the lifestyle brand The Everygirl).
Don’t be tempted to solely follow the current naming trends. What works for one brand may not work for your brand, and by falling into the copycat trend, you will secure your brand’s name as one that will not stand out from the crowd. The affix “-ify” worked for Spotify, but that doesn’t mean that adding “ify” to the end of your brand name will deliver the same success for you.
3. Make it feel approachable and more familiar. Don’t be overly formal.
The most inviting brands also make their customers feel seen. Their products or services feel personalized to their audience’s unique needs.
Brand names can highlight the individual by incorporating common words and word parts that are inherently more inviting than complex, scientific, or technical words. Lexicon Branding used some of these tools when developing the name AllStripes, a research platform dedicated to rare diseases. Building on the image of a zebra – the chosen symbol of the rare disease community – the name AllStripes spoke to that audience with a personalized touch, rather than focusing on the science behind diseases.
4. Be authentic. Don’t be too big on “attitude.”
The irony of trying to be inviting is that the act of trying too hard can have the opposite effect. Truly inviting brands must express themselves authentically without overdoing it. For example, when Coca-Cola needed a name for a natural, stevia-based sweetener, Lexicon Branding created the name Truvia – quite simply, “true” blended with “stevia,” with no false claims or unnecessary attitude.
For authentic brand naming, we often keep the following in mind:
• Don’t overpromise or oversell: Better Mortgage succeeds on approachability, while a name like Perfect Mortgage or Dream Mortgage would be over-the-top.
• Bring your values into the name. If your company prioritizes environmental sustainability, find a way to say “green” in the name. (It doesn’t have to literally be the word “green” though.)
• Using a personal name can bring authenticity. Think Tom’s of Maine or Ben & Jerry’s.
Wherever you take your brand identity – whether it be more inviting or higher on attitude – it’s worthwhile to remember that a well-crafted brand name can be a crucial part of how your brand’s story reaches your audience. And with 40 years of brand naming experience, Lexicon Branding is poised to be a part of crafting that identity.