As you prepare to launch your own fashion label, you face the challenge of deciding on a brand name. While the fashion world is full of names that are easily recognizable, finding one that fits you and the particular segment of customers you are targeting can be a challenge that many first time fashion entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed with.
Coming up with a name for a fashion brand involves a lengthy process, and is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Here are a few steps that will help you structure that process and hopefully make it easier.
Focus on your target audience
A brand should appeal to its target audience. What segment are you looking to appeal to – youthful, sophisticated, urban, and edgy? Your brand name needs to be a reflection of this key trait. This is why sports brands are usually short – Nike, Reebok, Fila, Puma – and so on. Torrid, a brand that focuses on large sizes for teenage girls and younger women, appeals to the romantic predispositions of this audience.
Determine your brand personality
Fashion brands tend to represent the personality of the designer, and it’s not surprising that many brands are the names of their owners themselves – Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan – but if your name is not as easy to roll off the tongue, you’re better off creating one that is a reflection of the personality – like Forever21 appealing to young women. A combination can also work if paired well, either individually or as a mash-up of the two words.
Be Innovative and edgy, but don’t go over the top
Many fashion entrepreneurs are disposed towards creating a brand name that a reflection of current trends or fads by being sharp and memorable, but this can backfire over time if the trends change. Being too edgy can also hurt, as the name loses its shock value over time – FCUK being a prime example, says Steve Manning of branding and naming consultancy Igor.
Watch out for Copyrights
While many find it tempting to use permutations and misspellings of common names, it might misfire if your audience doesn’t know how to spell your name correctly. If people can’t read, pronounce or remember a name it’s definitely the wrong one, so avoid names like Wynd, Phyre, etc. even though they might be tempting. And do check copyright and trademark registries to avoid taking one that already owned by someone else. Using a foreign word might be an interesting way to project your brand, but be sure there’s no one using that brand in the markets you are looking to target.
Simple Tests to Determine the Success of Your Brand Name
Alexandra Watkins, CIO of Eat My Words, a brand creation agency advocates two tests to determine if the brand name will be likely to succeed, which she calls the SMILE and SCRATCH tests. The test to check what qualities your brand name should have is the SMILE Test. Essentially it stands for
Simple – easy to understand
Meaningful – one which your customers easily relate
Imagery – creates a strong visual association
Legs – it should have the ability to stay relevant for a long time
Emotional – builds a bond, entertains, evoke a strong feeling.
The SCRATCH test is one to determine the qualities a brand name should not have. It stands for
Spelling – it should not be complicated to write or remember
Copycat – should not sound like or remind one of a similar brand
Random – one which has no association with the product
Annoying – evoking negativity
Tame – has very feeble associations
Curse of Knowledge – is understood only by insiders
Hard to Pronounce – If they can’t say it, they can’t remember it.
A good brand should be able to pass each of these tests, for it to be memorable.
Make Stakeholders part of the process
Once you’ve drawn up a short list of the brand names you’d like, share them with a small circle of influential people. These include investors, suppliers, your designer, employees and consider their opinion, although you should be the one to make the final decision. This helps you get an outside feel for the brand as well, and makes decision making easier.
Build a suitable image or logo to go with the brand name
The name is one part of the branding process. The logo and color palette that make up the logo are also part of the branding process. A suitable color palette and image will support and enhance the name, make it more memorable and easy to recall.
When we launched our business, the name came out of a simple understanding that we were here to help a fashion brand achieve its goals – hence the fuel that drives fashion brands, or simply put, Fuel4Fashion. The alliteration also helps us in building recall, and it simplifies what we do for our target audience, namely fashion entrepreneurs and growing fashion labels.
Building a brand takes time, and fashion brands require more due to the crowded nature of the market. But with a good brand name that represents the style of the clothes themselves, you are likely to build a stronger brand following and better recall as the years go by.
Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion, the freelance fashion design studio for multiple product designing in apparels that caters to start-up fashion labels and growing fashion brands with a diverse portfolio of design services. She is a member of the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Women Entrepreneurship Program and has over a decade of fashion industry experience with international labels and start-ups.