How to craft a brand name or tagline in 5 minutes (and whether it's the right one)

Date
19 December 2023

Seriously, it's done in no time. And we're about to show you how. The question is: is this what you want? In this blog post, you'll read how we do it at iO, you'll find some tips and tricks to apply on your own work and you'll start to grasp the added value of the human factor.

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How long did it take you to come up with your kids' names? Did you think 'Ross' or 'Rachel' had a nice ring to it and that was that? Probably not. Something tells us it took you weeks, or even months.

At the very least, you have to wonder: Is it a boy or a girl? What does the name make you feel? Does it fit my surname? Do I actually like the name? Is my partner on board? Is the kid going to be bullied if the birth card says Techno Mechanicus? (look it up)

The list of possible concerns is endless.

And that's exactly why it's hard to come up with a brand name or tagline in 5 minutes. You can. But are you sure you want to?

Surely ChatGPT can do it?

If you really want to. ChatGPT won't take a second to whip up a list. We had a go at it, just for fun. 

Our question to ChatGPT: I'm starting a business that creates company names in five minutes using ChatGPT. Give me 10 suggestions for a name for my company. 

ChatGPT said: 

1. RapidNamer 

2. NameGenius 

3. InstaName 

4. QuickBrand 

5. SpeedyNomenclature 

6. SnapNamer 

7. SwiftLabel 

8. TurboNamer 

9. InstantIdentity 

10. ExpressNomenclator 

Good luck with your new venture! 

Nifty. Didn't even take 5 seconds. And even wishing us well. We're touched. 

But could a company like Nike have it come up with a million-dollar tagline like 'Just do it'? Telling ChatGPT to 'Just do it' is not going to cut it. So, ask yourself: is this really what you want?

robot writing

So why does it take so long to come up with 'something good'?

The sheer complexity of a baseline or company name is just that you have to say a lot in very few words. Which is very different when it comes to a longer text. A blog post, for example, is usually part of a broader strategy. Such an in-depth post is often about something so specific that it almost writes itself. And it's likely to lead a less public life than a company name.  

An unborn child is still a stranger. You don't know anything about it yet. And yet, you have an advantage over someone who's thinking of a child's name: in an ideal scenario, for a brand name or tagline, you have much more information to base your creations on. Let's look at some of the information that can help you. 

All right, so how should it be done?

I'm going to tell you how we do it at iO. Put it to good use. Or don't. Have it your way. But it works for us. 

First, we look at who it's about 

You can't talk to the unborn kid. But you can 'meet' a brand or company. That is, you can meet the people and ask them questions. They possess the mental capacity to answer with more than 'mummy'. (wouldn't that be awkward?) That's where you get the info you need to create a picture of who you have in front of you. 

Who are you, deep inside? Why do you exist? Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? And what are your values? The shared ideals that are your company's soul? 

Clear answers to those questions help you get the perfect starting position. In most cases we take our clients through a (re)branding track. In a few workshops, we map out all the information we need. 

What can you do with that info? 

What follows are no requirements, but neat little tricks you can apply to add personality to your name or tagline.  

1. Cut to the chase 
A name that says what it does instantly adds value. The name 'Instagram' says: 'Send something right away'. 'Facebook' gives away the fact that it's a collection faces, while 'YouTube' implies you TV. Pretty sure we don't need to explain 'Netflix'. 

2. Show how your target audience will benefit
Tell your target audience how they can benefit from your brand, tool or service. It should be something that sets you apart from the competition. Nike's 'Just do it' stems from the 70s. Its meaning: wearing Nike gives you the confidence to – you'll never guess – just do it. Adidas basically does the same thing with 'Impossible is nothing', albeit in a slightly more negative way. Red Bull gives you wings to take on challenges. Everyone in their own way, of course. We don't all have to dive down 38 kilometres from space.  

3. Make it exceptional 
Platitudes are your tagline's worst enemy. Virtually anyone will fill in the missing brand when you say 'Always ...'. And we're pretty confident most people will recognise 'It's finger lickin' good'. If you're old enough, you might have heard of 'Put a tiger in your tank'. Lines that consist of words you don't read anywhere else, are the ones that stick. And that marketeers still talk about on company websites 50 years later. If you're Target, you'll get away with 'Expect More, Pay Less'. But as a start-up, it's not that easy to be heard with a line that could be anyone's. 

4.Add layers, tell more 
Because you're worth it. Of course, you are. L'Oréal knows where it's at. With this line, the cosmetic giants want to tell you that you deserve to feel good. On top of that, L'Oréal reassures you that the money you pay for their products in nothing but an investment in your own self-worth and happiness. It's their way to position themselves as a top-notch brand. 

reclame

5. Make it culture proof 
Many of our clients do business in Belgium. In most cases, that means they want to appeal to both a Dutch- and French-speaking audience. A brand or tool name should then work best in both languages. Or you might go for something in English (if that suits your brand identity).  

A slogan, or whatever you come up with, should be translatable. Don't always take that too literally. Transcreate it. It doesn't have to match one to one, but find something that conveys the same feeling

That also applies to cultural differences between countries that seem to speak the same language. It's not because they can order a burger in each other's country, that they get triggered by the same subtleties. 

We often run campaigns for both Belgium and The Netherlands. One time, potato chip brand Lay's simply duplicated a campaign for the Dutch market and rolled it out into the Flemish market. Simply put, Lay's stated their chips were crunchier than a visit to a chiropractor. In The Netherlands, they abbreviate that by saying 'chiro'. In Flanders, however, chiro is something like the boy scouts.   

If you're not from any of both countries, it gets confusing. It would take us a long time to transcreate the campaign just for the sake of this blog post. Which, luckily for us, strengthens our case that you can't just quickly translate a few words. It takes time, it takes craft. 

Be careful with word play and references. Especially if they need to be culture proof. Not to mention those lines that contain multiple layers.  

Every day, iO helps clients that have a presence in Belgium, the Netherlands and many other countries. Thats why we work with native Flemish, Walloon, Dutch, French, British and American copywriters. Experts that make sure a message excites the target audience, wherever they are. They check to make sure what they come up with doesn't confuse people on the other side of the border.

6. Make your words last 
Because that's nice and sustainable and we all like to claim that, right? So better stay away from taglines with a short lifespan. Avoid references to anything time-related, trends, ... Anything that runs the risk of being old news within a few months. 

You can buy yourself flowers could be a fun tagline for a flower shop today. Whoever reads this in a few years is not going to have a clue what we're talking about.  

7. Make it short  
The shorter, the better. Just do it. I'm lovin' it. Think different. Eat fresh. Got Milk? And, as always, there are exceptions that prove the rule: 

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard. 

We didn't even need to look that one up. That's how well it sticks.  

8. Alliterating ads 
If you can, make your brand name or tagline alliterate. It's easier to read because your brain remembers it better. 

  • Coca-Cola 

  • Weight Watchers 

  • Dunkin' Donuts 

Or what about 'Intel Inside', or 'Don't dream it. Drive it.' (Jaguar) 

Astonishing as it may appear, alliteration alone is anything but acceptable. Reads terribly, doesn't it? If it works, go for it. But don't force it. Just make sure you convey your message in an appealing way

Or let's just ask ChatGPT anyway?

Sure. Why not. 

Why not? Well, because it will take a long time before that brilliant AI tool perfectly combines all those elements above. Let alone imagine an accurate picture of customer and target group, as we humans can. So, if you want to make a lasting impression with something unique, engage experts who really get to know your brand. According to very accurate non-existent research, in 99% of cases this produces the best result: a name or tagline that catches on and sticks around. For the right reasons.

Pieter Moons
Pieter Moons
Copywriter & concept creator

Pieter doesn’t need to work himself. His words and concepts do it on his behalf. Backed by 10 years of copywriting and hundreds of punchy lines he gives organisations a voice.

Need some help to come up with words?

Let us know how we can help you and we'll have a chat.

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