The question that sometimes rolls around my head — was the Redhead name a bad name idea? Some people assume it's a hair salon, after all. And even though dye is required to get rid of those gray sparkles, my accountant won't let me write off salon services, which hardly seems fair. But what started as an inside joke with my husband is now, 20+ years and one rebrand later, Redhead Creative Consultancy. And we're doing pretty well. In the end, being "The Reds" has so much equity and emotion attached, I couldn't imagine anything else.
Personal rambling aside, our own brand name fits under one of the specific categories we consider when naming a client's brand. We dig fairly deep in every category when exploring a brand name. Naming projects are just about the only times when we leave the choices broad for the client. It's their baby after all.
When a client knocks at our door to name their brand, we typically consider three categories of names:
- Relevant and meaningful
Yes, Redhead falls under the third category.
Acronym names convey professionalism and legitimacy, and are on the traditional side. They can also deftly express the values of an organization, like BOLD Lansing (Believe, Optimize, Learn, Dream). When developing the brand and naming this initiative, we wanted these values to be top of mind for their audience as they used BOLD Lansing to achieve economic security.
However, acronym names can be forgetful if they aren't thoughtful. The fact that "bold" is a feeling we wanted to impart on the audience goes a long way in making the name memorable, as does adding the descriptor "Lansing." Descriptors matter, and they can make or break a good name.
Relevant and meaningful
Industry-relevant names follow naming trends and/or reflect something specific or meaningful to a given field or company. Piper & Gold Public Relations is a PR firm we branded a few years ago. It follows the traditional surname pattern that is common within their industry. That was our intention, but Piper & Gold convey more meaning and ethos than a traditional surname moniker does.
Piper — the pied piper. The founder has a deep relationship to theatre, and it reflects the ability to stand in the spotlight, command attention, and create compelling messaging. Gold — the mineral. Gold is the highest standard, an implication of quality, and it sounds euphonic when paired with "Piper." Over the course of time, the company has been able to imbue the ampersand with meaning related to their corporate values as well.
While competitors may have stuffy names following a standard naming convention, Piper & Gold's name distinguishes their firm through subtle disruption.
As is the case with our own brand name, some names have nothing to do with the work you do. They do, however, have the power to reflect some truths about your organization, even if implicitly. Redhead reflects the truth of my hair color, yes, but it also conveys a sense of creativity and playfulness, and even passion, wildness or rarity. When working with a creative consultant such as "Redhead," you know you won't be dealing with prim, plain bureaucrats.
Unrelated, serendipitous names aren't for everyone, and if you go too off-base you may leave your audiences confused. That's why, as I mentioned before, descriptors can be so important. "Creative Consultancy" keeps our name grounded, clearly expressing our field of work. That the unexpectedness of this type of name, when done thoughtfully, can work in your favor.
When naming your baby, no matter the industry, there are many things to keep in mind. Phonetics, ulterior meanings, and idiosyncrasies are just some of the factors that must be thought through. Consider how your full brand name will sound when introducing yourself at networking events. Consider what you'll use as a nickname. Research the different meanings and metaphorical value of your potential name. How will your name look on different branded materials?
There's no plug-and-chug guide when it comes to naming your brand; considerations vary depending on your industry, organization, and audience. Then, of course, there's the visual side of things and how your brand name will be treated in the logo. But that's a conversation for another day.
Branding your organization can be joyful and strategic and incredibly fun. Seize the opportunity should it arise.