The task of finding a name for your personalised clothing brand may seem like something you could leave as an afterthought, after all, you have your product, you know your market and everything is set to go.
Think of choosing your clothing company name as important as naming your child – it’s going to be with you forever and will certainly impact on the way that people respond and interact with them. Unfortunately, there is no simple baby name book to the rescue in the case of your brand and believe us, it’s a jungle out there. That’s why we’ve put together a guide, to help you navigate your way through and recognise the potential pitfalls.
Clothing Brand Name Ideas: Coming Up With The Best One for Your Line
As with most difficult tasks, there is always a paid service that will offer to save your bacon. Depending on the nature of your business and potential market value, this may or may not be of interest to you in terms of investment.
According to Entrepreneur, hiring a professional to name your brand could cost you up to £ 55k. If you do a quick google search, you’ll quickly come across many different platforms offering this service such as Branditory, Namella and Spellbrand to name just a few (the clues are in the names). At Your Brand, for example, you can buy existing names with their associated domain.
But you can do it for free.
Since we are assuming that you are in the process of trying to name your T-shirt business and not a multi-billion dollar deal enterprise (although who knows?) we will assume that you are not planning on investing a great deal of money into the naming of your company. Therefore, you will quite probably be trawling the internet for ideas and most likely struggling to settle on a final name.
Have no fear, there are many different strategies and tactics that can be used to come up with a killer name that will stick in the minds of your target market.
1# First and foremost, a name is for life, not just for Christmas
You may be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t matter if you decide to change your company name a little later down the line when you feel a little more inspired. There are a few reasons why we wouldn’t recommend that you do this. Firstly, you mess with the whole essence of ‘branding’. The word brand means ‘to burn’ and comes from the traditional act of producers literally burning their mark onto a product ref. You may affect customer loyalty by confusing them with a change in name.
Secondly, you really should buy the domain for your brand straight away, if you don’t, you may find that it becomes unavailable later down the line (particularly if you are successful as someone will buy it and attempt to resell it back to you). Thirdly, any change to the business at this level is likely to cause bureaucratic chaos. Just imagine how tricky it was to set up the business and imagine repeating this, with the additional stress of undoing what is already undone. Consider it a bit like getting a divorce, as opposed to falling out with a friend.
That said, many famous big brands have changed their names, such as Backrub, Research in Motion and Brad’s Drink (read here to find out what they became)
2# Trademarking issues
Unlike naming a child or pet, you can’t simply pluck a name out of thin air and use it freely (there are few things free in this life). You might love the idea of having a pet called Mr Squiffy, or a child called Diamond-sparkles and that’s wonderful, but in the world of business, there are a few more hurdles to jump. Actually, I decided to check trademarks for Mr Squiffy and guess what? It’s already registered.
You can check existing registered trademarks (in the UK) by searching on the official government website and following instructions. In the case of Mr Squiffy, you can see that it’s already been registered, according to the Intellectual Property Office, as it has a registered trademark number. Make up your own name to avoid trademark problems.
3# Emotional value
This bit is for family and friends. Check the name with everyone you can, all ages, genders, everyone. Visualise the name – what images does it conjure up, are they positive or negative? Check the emotional response to the name – what do people think the brand represents, how do they imagine it? What products or services does it sell? You have to check with humans on this one because the lexical complexity of words sometimes cannot explain why some words may sound like porn star names instead of an organic food brand.
Remember also that putting two names together (like your first pet’s name and your first street name) can conjure up strange images.
It’s really important to check that your name doesn’t have any kind of negative association that you’re not aware of. This may sound pretty ridiculous, but you’d be amazed at the number of mistakes made simply by not having a quick google before deciding on a company name. Often, this issue can be resolved by checking with family and friends – it can be a generation gap or cultural gap that causes you to name your business after the Spanish meaning for a Roman orgy, because, quite understandably, you had no idea of the meaning of the word in another language. The same can happen with cultural references, without mentioning names, a friend named his indie band after a bold and sex-obsessed tom-cat, entirely by accident.
What do you want your name to communicate? it should reinforce the basis of your business values/concept/product. Entrepreneur has the following advice:
Firstly, you’ll already be aware that there are many different types of a company name, that is, that they may have different linguistic and semantic routes. According to Marketingmo the common types are the following:
- Use the founder or inventor’s name (Ford)
- Describe what you do (British Airways)
- Describe an experience or image (Whizz Air)
- Take a word out of context (Apple)
- Make up a word (Etsy)
Here are some more I added to the list:
- The double name: Bread bread (for an artisanal company) and here’s the Spanish version too, PanPan. It’s all about emphasis on the word to bring a whole new meaning to it.
- Anagrams: A word, phrase, or sentence formed from another by rearranging its letters
- Palindromes: A word or a number or a sequence of words that can be read the same way from either direction, be it forwards or backwards.
And don’t forget, just like Brit point out, it’s not a coincidence that Steve Jobs picked the name Apple (it ranked higher in the phonebook than Atari). Tinder actually has a much more innocent origin than perhaps you might expect, coming from a quick consultation of a thesaurus for ‘matchbox.’
So…to get to naming your clothing brand. This guide is by no way definitive since the subject of brand naming is a very much debated issue. Here, we would like to present you with a process that does its best to cover all aspects of business naming strategies in an attempt to leave no corner uncovered and to get you to think about your name from a variety of perspectives – business-related and otherwise. We would recommend that you start the process from the beginning and try to find what works creatively for you.
Ready? So here are the stages we suggest to come up with that all-powerful name in the event that it doesn’t come to you whilst you’re sat on the bog.
1# Write a list of company names you like and research how they came up with them. Since you’re trying to name a clothing brand, it would be best to investigate other similar businesses to see what you’re up against, assuming that all the ‘good’ names will be taken. Have a look on T-shirt platforms such as Teespring and Spreadshirt to get an idea. Equally, the same goes for the reverse task – check out all the dodgy names and why you don’t like them.
2# Write a list of 100-200 words that you associate with your business. This could be anything from values to products and services, even words relating to your target market. Remember that you want your clothing brand to sound like what it is.
Note: Brand Archetypes can be a powerful tool when coming up with your brand’s personality. Learn about them here.
3# Make a list of keywords relating to your company, that highlight how your business differentiates from others in the sector. You may find that you offer something that represents a gap in the market, and you’ll certainly want to take advantage of that.
4# Have a scroll through Wordporn if you like more ‘intelligent’ names with unexpected meanings.
Leave no domain unturned, no google search unchecked.In terms of the interest in growing as a business itself, you want to make sure that the obvious is covered. The domain name must be available. Yes, it’s a pain in the behind if it’s not, but believe us, if it is, you’ll be saving yourself a whole load of hassle. In fact, some clothing brands may start by checking for available domains before writing the lists, as essentially failure at this stage could stop you in your tracks.
Use any of the following sites either for initial inspiration, or to check availability.
Google your name
If you didn’t do it earlier, Google your name and variations of it. You don’t want anything negative associated with it, too many similar business names, or any scandals that could be confused as pertaining to your business activity.
Download the name evaluator from Frizzle
Frizzle.com offers a cool little chart that will check your clothing brand name for obvious flaws following a simple scoring sheet.
Check a thesaurus AND a dictionary
In the case that you didn’t just invent your brand name, it’s always a fun task to see what other words are associated with the name. You may even find a better name in the process. It’s also a great way to make sure that you are 100% sure of what the name means. The word ‘Disperse’ for example can be associated with the dissemination of seeds and growth, but can equally refer to a person with a scatty mind in other contexts.
Change the language
Let’s face it, some languages just sound sexier and more appetising. Try translating the name to see how it sounds in another mother tongue to see if you can add even more jazz to your brand identity. N.B. Be VERY careful to complete the previous step in this case and the following one…
My favourite of all the tests, and one on which I subsequently failed epically by using a part of my name for my own branding. The Bar test.
I) The Bar Test: Imagine that you’ve just registered your new business name and you pop down to the pub to celebrate your victory in life, but there’s a live concert on. Someone asks you what your new enterprise is called, so you shout it in their ear.
Will they be able to:
- Remember it?
- Spell it?
- Pronounce it?
My favourite name change, for this reason, is the case of what Brits will lovingly remember as the brand of the household cleaning fluid, Jif. In 2000, after over 25 years on the market, Jif became Cif overnight because other European countries had a hard time pronouncing the brand.
II) Readability test: Checktext reaches a whole new level of geek in terms of name choosing, however, well worth a quick check. Pop the name into the online tool to check readability – the site also provides you with some excellent little SEO tips and tricks. If you like this kind of thing, you can run the name through a few other scientific tools for the ultimate check.
III) Common Sense: Invented names should be short -like Etsy and eBay. Any longer and the human capacity to use them begins to fade. I really like the artist SBTRKT but I REALLY struggle to spell it correctly, since it has no vowels.
Sometimes, it all goes wrong, just… well, because.
From ISIS chocolates to the YMCA, we can’t always predict what external influences may bring our clothing brand name down in flames ref. So, don’t be disheartened if you find it all to be a bit of a struggle.
Here is some further reading once you’ve exhausted all of the above:
And now for the complete infographic.
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