What’s in a name: how we help brands find the perfect fit

By RocketAir Crew
April 13, 2023

When we design branded digital experiences for clients, there’s a lot riding on the name itself. Your brand name needs to be memorable, differentiated, and resonant—something your audience will connect with and choose over competitors. The name should also reflect the core of your brand and be able to flex alongside your business as it grows. We know this can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. Whether we’re partnering with  startups just coming out of the gate or long-standing companies looking to modernize, here’s how we help clients arrive at a name that’s uniquely right.

Exploration grounded in strategy

There is no magic wand. We don’t expect to walk into that first meeting and pull a rabbit out of the hat. Rabbits take work. And the work we conduct in a typical naming process begins, like all of our creative work, with research and strategy. 

Marcus Kaulback, Brand Strategist and Copy Lead at RocketAir, says: 

Successfully mining a brand name requires a deep understanding of three main things: the client’s business, the market, and the audience.

We have initial stakeholder interviews with the client to learn first-hand everything about their brand: their vision, mission, values, and business objectives. This allows us to establish core brand attributes that serve as branching off points for name exploration. 

For example, one direction we selected for our client Multi-Specialty Healthcare was “high-quality.” We explored names that connoted a sense of high-quality care for patients, without sounding overly luxurious or expensive. Eventually, this direction led to “Excelsia.”

We  begin our exploration by giving clients a variety of name options for each direction and then do a round of feedback to get a sense for which direction(s) to hone in on.

Refining and testing

Once we’ve narrowed down the preferred direction, we dive deeper with another round of options. Of course, we can’t explore in a vacuum. Kaulback explains the importance of understanding the competitive landscape and name availability during the process:

“You need to know the pool you’re swimming in. What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitor names? What are the industry naming conventions? When you know what’s working and what isn’t for those you’re up against, you put yourself in a position to do better. 

From there, you might come up with the best name in the world, but chances are you weren’t the first. Finding that perfect brand name is equal parts suitability and availability. For every incredible idea, you have to be absolutely sure about domain availability, social handle availability, and trademark possibility.”

As we refine the name variations, we’re also recommending website domains based on availability and providing analysis based on competitive research. Additionally, subjecting name ideas to the scrutiny of focus groups and user interviews is also highly valuable, not only to gauge resonance but also to discover possible connotations or associations that may have been initially overlooked—helping to avoid costly snafus, both financially and reputationally. RocketAir Brand Strategist Amy Iannone recounts how we leveraged customer insights when rebranding Surf Broadband Solutions to Surf Internet:

“We found that customers and employees had a lot of positive association with the ‘Surf’ part of the name; we wanted to modernize but didn’t want to throw out that existing goodwill. So visually we subverted the ‘Internet’ piece of the logo so that they can scale over time into different avenues, e.g. cell service, etc.”

Like our approach to design, our approach to naming isn’t inherently a linear process. We often find ourselves going through cycles of research, exploration, feedback, and refinement. It takes time and effort. 

Consider this: It took Warby Parker six months and more than 2,000 names to find the right fit for their brand. If you’re willing to trust in the process, you’ll find yours too.

Fuel for thought

  • Memorability: You want your name to elicit a feeling, stay front of mind, and convince your audience to take a step toward you.
  • Longevity: The rule of thumb here is to pick a name that can last as long as you want your company to. Ironically, trends are out.
  • Scalability: Beware the pigeonhole. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by naming your brand something that limits growth.   
  • Reflection: Whenever possible, your brand name should epitomize the what and why of who you are. What does your brand do, and why does it do it?