How to Name and Discover Your Brand (Plus Find Your Unique Voice)
You know how naming a pet is kinda tough? I mean jeez, naming anything is kinda tough. We have a funny story in my family of how we named our dog growing up (and even my little brother) that we had lists and lists of names. We had pow-wows about it, we had debates, family discussions, all the things. But the more we tried to come to a consensus, the less there was a consensus. To paint a picture, our dog was named “Puppy” for weeks.
Finally, in both situations, the name ended up just being the first name on the list. The first name that was put down ended up being it, in both situations. And you know what? It was perfect. Simplicity is everything.
What is My Brand and How Do I Name It?
Branding has a ton of weight put onto it. I totally get it, I’ve done a lot of branding work over the years with logos, websites, branding packages, and designs for those starting out on their own ventures. There’s this buzz of excitement within the dynamic in starting out and also this buzz of anxiety… (what if it’s all wrong?) Or the ever popular case of the grass is always greener syndrome. Or there’s sometimes the person that wants to try on everything before settling on the first option anyway (aaaand that would be me…I have been my own worst client many times.)
So, with all the plates up in the air, how does one even know what their brand is before they’ve really begun? What is a brand, anyway? And how can we choose the perfect name?
You Are Your Biggest Brand Ambassador
By far the biggest lesson I’ve learned about branding is that it’s less about the shiny logo, the beautiful website, or the business cards - it’s about the life and the feeling behind it. So in short, it’s about YOU. Because friend to friend, I’m telling you that even if you have all of those nice elements in check, the website, the logo, the social media accounts, #allthethings, but things still don’t feel in sync with what you’re doing, the whole setup will be empty, like a pair of nice shoes that never get worn.
WE, those of us behind the scenes, are the brands. And the craziest thing happens, too… when we are fueling our brands, the brands tend to take on a life of their own and they begin to stand up on their own two feet. They become a recognizable force in the world and people start noticing them. So… you may be wondering still, “Ok yes, but what do I call it? I want to make sure I pick the right name!” Totally understand. You have no idea how often I have been in this vicious cycle. Keep reading, my friend.
When the Dust Settles, Where Does It Go?
Take yourself to this place mentally. When all is said and done, when you’re in the middle of your zone of genius doing your thang, when you’ve got clients coming to you and singing your praises, when you’ve got customers in your shop and sharing about it to their friends on social media. When everything feels right, good, and ready to roll, or when you’ve got podcasters, bloggers, and maybe even Oprah calling you to do a story about your work, what does that feel like?
When all is said and done, this is your thing, your bread and butter, so that is the important thing to recognize. It’s less about what it’s called, but what does it do. What is it? What is the feeling of it? How do you impact others? What is the work that you are doing? What is your vision? What is the most fun about it? And most importantly, who are you? This is what I mean by when the dust settles, where does it go?
There’s so much noise out there in internetland about what you should name your business, what it should be called, how you should choose your brand colors, or what designers you should hire, or how everything should look. Should, should, should, should, should… yuck. Can we all collectively agree to retire all of the “should’s” from our vocabulary please?
Most importantly, what do YOU want?
Now let’s talk about choosing that name!
Naming a Brand Using Your Actual Name
For some people, the best option may ultimately be their name. Think of people like Oprah, Kate Spade, Marie Forleo, or Dave Ramsey. Their names are also their brand. I believe that there are some businesses where this just fits perfectly. This is much more common nowadays and I’ve seen it cropping up more and more, and it’s not uncommon to see folks rebrand to using their own name with their work. Examples of folks who have done this include Melyssa Griffin, Danielle LaPorte, and Kris Carr. But again, this is totally a personal decision and might not be right for everyone.
Naming a Brand Using a Created Name
I have always looked up to incredible brand names that create their own buzz about them, such as a few of my favorites, Well+Good, Minimalist Baker, or Station Seven . Brand names can be creative, fresh, and as fun as you want. They can be crafted to be memorable and exactly what an audience is looking for. Having a created brand name can feel very freeing and open because it is almost like it’s own thing, it’s own entity. Brand names also have the ability to be extremely memorable, think of Netflix, Spotify, or Starbucks.
Ultimately, Find What Speaks to You
Choose your name based on what feels right to you. A great exercise would be to find the brands that you know and love already and study (but don’t copy!) how they have named themselves and consistently voice their brand. What do you love about them, and why? Give it some time and thought, but also know that if it truly doesn’t work out, it’s okay to switch it up. I like to think of branding as being like a riverbed. If the flow of water changes, often the riverbed morphs underneath to adapt to the water flow. So think of it like that. Fluid and adaptable, but also a stable structure for the water to flow through.
Simple Steps to Choosing a Brand Name
Choosing a name doesn’t have to be hard work! Here it is laid out in simple steps. Remember, don’t overthink it. Just like in my story at the beginning, your first gut instinct is usually right on the money!
Decide if you’ll be using your own name or a created name.
If it’s a created name, write down a list of words, themes, or ideas you really like.
Make sure the name isn’t already taken!
Make sure the name(s) feel good to you.
Put together a top 3 list of names, and maybe ask friends and family for feedback.
Once you pick a name, secure the domain so you’ll have it ready to go.
These steps are super simple, but can it can still sometimes be difficult to choose a name. So it needs to be said that the need to choose the perfect brand name can sometimes hinder people from ever getting started. But guess what, people will celebrate the work that you do regardless of what your brand is called. If Starbucks was called Moonbucks would anybody care? Of course not! They’d still be just as well-known as ever.
Don’t let choosing a brand name stop you from getting started. Your big ideas want to be expressed. Just like the story about our dog at the beginning of this post, he didn’t suddenly stop existing just because we couldn’t name him… he existed, and he was gonna do his thing no matter what, and whatever name we chose wouldn’t have stopped him from doing that. The magical mind-blowing thing you’ve set out to create is just like that.
But What if I’m Not Unique Enough to Be a Brand?
A really great thing is that you might think you’re not unique enough, but you truly are! Remember, we are so often our own worst critics, and part of the process of starting a project is making sure that we are on our own sides. Don’t cut off your sprouts before you’ve started growing, my friend! That seedling of an idea is going to grow into a sapling, and then a little tree, and then a medium sized tree, and then a full blown sequoia! It might take time, and in that time you will find your unique voice, the one that has things to share that no one else on the planet can share in the exact same way. Woah, right?
How to Find Your Authentic Voice
To find your authentic voice, the voice that slices through the noise and rings like a bell for your intended audience, you actually don’t have to go out there and search for it. Ya already got it, my friend. It’s already there, and all you have to do is let it come out. Your unique voice is found in the way you already naturally speak and the way you naturally relate to others. So often we tend to polish our writing or words in trying to be overly professional, and while professionalism certainly isn’t a bad thing, it can sometimes come across as stiff, lifeless, or lacking in inspiration and spark.
So the best way to find your voice is to practice writing the way you speak by simply writing more, blogging more, crafting fun social media posts, playing with copy, recording some videos, and getting out there and trying things. Being in the experience of things will allow for more and more for that real authentic you to come out. And the best part is that voice will start to come out more and more as you start having fun with it.
Remember, You are Unique!
I truly believe that every one of us are completely unique, even if we work in the same niches or write about the same topics. Everybody has their own energy and personality that they bring to the table that is completely different from anyone else. So what are the attitudes that you bring to your work? What is your big reason why you do what you do? You may have such a refreshing take on what you do that nobody else has and because it’s so natural to you, you may not see it. These are the things that will start to come out as you express your voice in your work.
Your Brand and Your Voice is Uniquely Yours
One of the best things about branding (but the thing that can also trip people up) is that sense of control, it’s almost scary! It’s almost too much control. It’s complete autonomy. So the important thing to narrow in on is to focus on the fact that you get to decide how this thing unfolds. What brand name speaks to you? What brand name sparks joy for you? And the best part about finding your brand voice is that it gets to be YOU using your own voice in a pure and authentic way. Pretty sweet right?
So when it comes to your brand and your business, pull out a piece of paper and answer these simple questions (and don’t overthink it):
What is it?
What is the feeling of your brand?
What is the work you are doing?
What is your vision?
What is the most fun part about it for you?
How do you wish to impact others?
Who are you?
The answers to these questions can help you focus in on what you really want to accomplish, who you are, and how you wanna do this thang in your own way. I also hope these questions help you learn a little bit more about yourself and understand that there’s no such thing as “little” dreams.
If you know any fire-starting creatives who could use a little help in the decision making department with branding, please share this post with them! I want to see more colorful creatives out there busting through barriers and ready to do their thang. Plus you can also connect with me and continue the conversation on IG @jessica_colyer