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Thursday, 13 July 2017 9:43

What's In a Business Name? Would A Rose by Any Other Name Really Smell As Sweet?

By - Michael Rader

Have you ever stopped to think about the company names and logos that you are bombarded with daily? Why do some of them strike an emotional chord while others fall flat? Why do we remember one logo and forget another? Is it all mere happenstance or is there more to it? You’ll be surprised.

Every new business needs a name and corresponding logo. If you are reading this, you are probably in the position of looking for a business name or reimagining your current name. Should your name choice be random? Should you use a generic name generator?

No and no.

There is a science behind names and logos and if you take the time to understand it, you will start your company off on the right foot.

Creating a connection with your business name

Business names that can connect with their target market have been proven to be more successful than those that don’t. It is really that simple. Your company name needs to possess the ability to weave through the myriad of words and images in the world and hit your customers where it counts – in the heart.

In an interview about choosing a company name, Dr. Carol Moog, a clinical psychologist explained that,

“A name without an emotional, non-verbal association is virtually useless – it will not be retained in the mind of the target audience.” In other words, no connection, no recognition.

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, author Daniel Kahneman introduces the concept of “cognitive ease.” Kahneman suggests that easy to recognize images and easy to pronounce words create emotional reactions. The more a consumer sees an image or hears a name, the more they like it. He writes,

“Repetition induces cognitive ease and a comforting feeling of familiarity.”

The perception of language in your business name

So how do you create a name that will establish this connection? The first step is understanding how consumers perceive language. Different sounds elicit different responses. In his Little Book of Language, David Crystal discusses the concept of sound symbolism. “It’s interesting how some names sound good and some sound bad,” he explains, giving the example the names with soft consonants such as [m], [n], and [l] tend to sound nicer than names with hard consonants such as [k] and [g].

Taking that concept one step further, consider research conducted by Vilayanur Ramachandran, who wanted to understand the relationship between words and neuroscience. He believed that people experience sounds in terms of colors or tastes. His theories explain how sounds can be metaphors for images, and how people make unconscious connections based on the make-up of the sounds.

Roses are red and violets are blue for a reason

If it is indeed true that people experience sounds in terms of color, what hue do you want your company name to be associated with? Understanding your goals can help in terms of choosing colors for your logo as well. Ideally, your company name and logo should elicit the same type of response from your target market. Consider the following associations:

  • Blue – security, peace, honesty, strength, compassion, trustworthiness
  • Red – energy, love, excitement, action, passion, boldness
  • Orange – happiness, social ability, friendliness, affordability
  • Yellow – logic, playfulness, optimism, confidence, forward thinking
  • Green – growth, nature, freshness, caring, organic
  • Purple – imagination, creativity, nostalgia
  • Black – sophistication, luxury, seduction, formality, authority
  • Multi – positive, playful, boundless, untethered

Consumers perceive shapes in milliseconds

In the book The Psychology of Colors, Fonts, and Shape in Logo Design, author Jami Oetting discussed the power of shape in eliciting a positive emotional response. Consider the following when you decide both the shapes included in your logo and the font of your name:

  • Circles, ovals, and ellipses – suggest community, friendship, and unity. Curves are often associated with the feminine.
  • Straight edges – suggest stability and balance, impart strength and professionalism. Can also appear cold and uninviting when used incorrectly.
  • Triangles – associated with the masculine. Suggests power, science, or law.
  • Vertical lines – associated with masculinity, strength, and aggression.
  • Horizontal lines – associated with tranquility and calm.
  • Curved typeface – generally appeals more to women.
  • Strong, bold lettering – generally appeals more to men.

What does all this mean?

All this talk about sounds, colors, and shapes can be overwhelming at first, but breaking each section down and analyzing its implication to your name/logo will be extremely beneficial.

Your name is your introduction to your potential customers. What do you want that introduction to say? What feelings do you want your color choices to elicit? What effect is your font or logo conveying? Understanding the psychology behind how people perceive what they see and hear can give you a head start in creating an emotional connection with your target market.

Remember, no connection = no recognition. No recognition = sales.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 July 2017 10:32

Michael Rader

With over ten years in web development and design, Michael Rader has expertise and technical know-how. But more than a skilled technician, he is an entrepreneur and innovator who helps startup’s and new businesses identify and define their future with a unique, brandable business name. Michael Rader is the founder and CEO of Brandroot®, a leading .com domain name marketplace. He currently lives in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii where he operates the business and authors a blog dedicated to naming and brand name establishment.


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