It’s the rebrand that became a hot-potato issue. Hasbro made headlines when it renamed its classic Mr. Potato Head line to simply Potato Head. This name change was no small fry. The 70-year-old brand made this decision in order to break away from traditional gender norms and allow for families of all kinds to be imagined. “Culture has evolved,” Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice president, and general manager at Hasbro, told Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists — with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.” This particular rebrand is an example of a brand evolving with the times.
The Future of Naming
Today, it’s crucial for brands to be inclusive, or they will be the ones left out. Inclusivity does not solely revolve around brand imagery. Your company’s name and messaging should be built with inclusion in mind.
Embracing diversity is not a trend; it’s the future. In fact, Gen Zers are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, according to a recent Pew Research survey.
Additionally, according to the study, Gen Zers are similar to Millennials in their comfort with using gender-neutral pronouns. Therefore if you want to build a brand that outlasts you, make inclusion a priority.
Here are some guidelines for naming your company with inclusion and the future in mind.
Determine Who You Are
When naming your business, the first place to start is to define your brand identity.
What is brand identity? It is your mission, values, mission, tone, and other similar brand constants. All of these factors contribute to how your customers perceive your brand. Working off your original business plan, you need to determine what your company stands for and how this reflects in the products or services you provide.
Map out themes and ideas that make up your brand or industry. This includes elements that form your business, from your journey to its operations. Elements of your brand identity will lend themselves to relevant name ideas later in the process.
Try to be as authentic as possible, as authenticity is what customers respond to. It’s what will set you apart from the brands that are performative.
After thoroughly evaluating your company’s background and developing a brand identity, you can narrow down your focus even further by determining your company’s value proposition.
Value propositions typically consist of a short one or two-sentence explanation of why people should care about your business. They clarify customers’ pain points or problems your service or product will solve. This human-centric approach is what will lead you to acknowledge and create a truly meaningful brand.
Your value proposition should clearly highlight why consumers should choose your product or service over competitors and how you differ from them.
Highlight any unique benefits your startup offers from innovative technology to price point; the more exclusive, the better. These characteristics will help you uncover a more unique name and brand identity.
After you’ve developed a substantial brand identity and value proposition, brainstorming names is the next step of the inclusive naming process.
During this process, it is important to look past your business rather than just trying to find one or two words that sum up what your brand offers. Evaluate your brand identity and the value proposition you created. Use them to brainstorm name ideas around brand attributes, values, and customer experience.
Don’t forget to get your team involved with this process, as the key to inclusion is to actually include others. Having multiple minds on the same project will help generate exciting name ideas that you would not have been able to think of yourself.
From compound phrases and play-on-words to foreign idioms, the brainstorming process will help foster impactful creativity. Then, if you still need help, try utilizing tools like a business name generator to come up with new and unique ideas.
Feedback Is Key
Review all the keywords, themes, and phrases you and your team have brainstormed. Any repetitive ideas that evoke immediate emotion should be highlighted.
The repetition typically signals a possible name. However, don’t go purely on your gut instinct. Remember, you’re going for inclusivity. You may have a personal bias you’re not even aware of. While it is important to find a name that excites you, it also needs to resonate with consumers as well. An effective way to determine if your name will appeal to your target customer is through audience testing. This can effectively gauge how your favorite names rank with your preferred demographic.
You may also discover that your names are offensive or politically incorrect, a failure you truly want to avoid in today’s “cancel culture.”
Ideally, your startup should reach out to one thousand individuals who match your target demographic. This is a sizable pool that will offer your team relevant and reliable feedback. Then, after reviewing the data from your audience survey, you can confidently move forward with a name you know sets off a positive consumer reaction.
When you finally settle on an inclusive name, the final step is to ensure that you’ve run through a functionality test.
Most importantly, say your name out loud using a few relevant sentences. For example, if you have, or plan to have a sales team, you might say, “This is Tory with [Your Name],” as if you were making a cold call. If you’re launching a fashion store, you might say, “Thank you for shopping at [Your Name].”
Say the phrase slowly and quickly. Better yet, call a friend and say the phrase to them. Don’t ask if your friend likes the name; just make sure they understand what you are saying.
The worst response you can ever get regarding your name ideas is “What?” or “Say it again.” We’ve counseled many clients to scrap the smartest, most meaningful names simply because they were difficult to convey from person to person. But, on the other hand, a highly functional name is one that is easily remembered and can catch on with word of mouth.
Bad names are often made in the business world due to rushing through processes.
Although naming may seem like a small piece of your business, it should actually be seen as the face of your business. The naming process truly requires devotion, time, and energy.
Your company’s name can be the driving force for drawing in customers from all backgrounds. Despite what your product or service provides, your name is the first thing a customer learns about your company. Therefore, it needs to be inclusive.
As the foundation of your brand, inclusive names can literally make or break a prospect’s desire to learn more. By taking the proper steps and delivering a strong and inclusive name from the beginning, you have a greater chance to succeed now and in the future.
Image Credit: lachlan ross; pexels; thank you!