By Tom Shutt
That title up there in bold sounds pretty wordy, doesn’t it? It is also ultra-specific, and probably not too easy on the eyes. Much like the title and cover of a book—or even the title of this post—your brand name and any accompanying images have mere seconds to capture and control a reader’s attention. If this first step is botched, there won’t be any second chances.
On average, a casual reader in a bookstore will spend about 8 seconds looking at the cover of a book before they decide to carry it with them to the register or put it back on the shelf. Likewise, a recent Forbes article suggests that strong first impressions are made in the first 7 seconds of meeting your business partner. As readers are the potential business partners of authors, so too are visitors of your website or store also potential partners, and you really don’t have much time to capture their attention.
So how do you do that? Be succinct. Have your name carry an idea without giving away the whole story. Your name can sound foreign (to your target market), or it can sound luxurious, or it can even be a made-up word! You can mash words together like “buzz” and “feed” and create one of the most successful social media websites in existence. In BuzzFeed’s case, Facebook already had the “feed” in place, and they just had to create the buzz with sensational stories. It is also a short name, something that rolls off the tongue in conversation, which is exactly what you want. If their company was named “Online Collection of User-Submitted Articles About Cool Stuff”, you can bet their click-through rate would be significantly lower, possibly even non-existent. Just think of the debacle that would make in casual conversation; you’d be tripping over your own tongue and breathless getting all the words out.
“But Tom, I just found a list of the Best Book Titles , and none of them are succinct!”
Thanks for continuing the book analogy for me! This is true, and the list was compiled by people who know good books when they read them. However, authors have a lot more words to work with than your typical brand website, so they can afford to be wordy if the pay-off is in generating interest. They also have the benefit of entire series setting up similar titles. Start a title with “Harry Potter and…”, for instance, and it doesn’t matter what comes next—the reader trusts that it will go to a good place.
A lot of the titles on that list also have a pretty standard range of syllables—by my count, around seven or eight syllables seemed to be the norm. Think of common brand names and how many syllables those have. Odds are, they’ll be about half that length or less. Lululemon, Ghirardelli, Louis Vuitton — these luxury brands tend to be at the longer end of the spectrum, and their length can be representative of that exclusivity. If your brand name is too long or difficult to pronounce, people aren’t even going to want to mention it. By the way, “Harry Potter” is four syllables neatly spaced between two words. The form in which these sounds are presented is just as important as the length.
How might we clear up the title of this article to make it look—and sound—more appealing? Succinctness! “Better Name, Better Brand” might work well; it vaguely hints at the content within while still maintaining an air of mystery. “Business Pro—Brand Naming” is another good option. Everyone wants to be a professional in their line of work, and there is a nice mirror effect with the em-dash and syllabic spacing.
You want to be prepared with an attractive, timeless name for your brand that rolls off the tongue. Whatever your business may be, bear in mind that professionalism starts with the first thing any potential partner will ask you: “What is the name of your business?”