How to choose a brand name and logo

One of the hardest parts about starting a new business of any kind is deciding on a brand name and logo. It doesn't matter whether you're in retail, insurance or the service industry, the right name can make or break your business – no pressure then.

Over the years even the most established brands have reinvented themselves, which goes to show you can't always get it right. Times change, trends come and go, and so your business will need to adapt to survive. If you take a look at the brands you know and love, how many do you know who have changed their logo or even adapted their band name?

As a start-up retailer in the 21st century you face a whole different battle to those brands started 100 years ago.  Nowadays, everything from your domain and brand name, to your Twitter handle, Pinterest and Instagram account, all have to be unique. Take for example John Lewis, one of the UK largest retailers, they do not have the @JohnLewis twitter handle – how many people do you think have tweeted the owner of this account in mistake? John Lewis has styled it out with @johnlewisretail, but it is worth while taking into account when your deciding on a new brand name.

John Lewis Twitter

How to name your business

The right brand name means a lot to a small business' success. Opinion is divided on the best strategy for coming up with a brand name. Some experts believe that the best names are abstract, a blank slate for you to build your business on, whilst others think that names should be informative so that customers immediately know what your business is about. Compare ASOS with New Look or Topshop…. What's your preference?

There are 5 main types of name you can choose:

1. Founder names 

founder names

2. Functional names

functional names

3. Invented names

invented names

4. Experimental names

experimental names

5. Evocative names

evocative names

Get some help

Coming up with a good business name is more complicated than most people think. If you're really struggling it is worthwhile enlisting the help of an expert. Many of these companies have elaborate systems that can create new names and they also know their way around trademark laws. A professional naming firm can prove costly if you're a start-up however.

The best way we find is to create a naming board. Keep writing phrases and words you like on the wall as well as the key elements of your brand you want to reinforce. Get a group of friends, family and colleagues round and brainstorm some more ideas; you will be surprised how many different ideas will come out of this. Try to think outside the box and use new forms or spellings of words that already exist.

You will eventually find a name/group of names that you are drawn towards. Now is the good/bad bit – check the availability of your domain. We would always recommend that you get both the .com and for your site as well any variations that could be used by competitors. PC World has learnt this the hard way and still do not have the .com to their site.

Designing a logo for your business

A logo is the face of your business and in some cases, a little more difficult than deciding on your brand name. A graphical display of what your company stands for, it will be used to promote your brand both online and offline.

There are a number of things to take into consideration when designing a logo for your company, most importantly colour. The use or lack of colour in a logo can completely change the look and feel, so make sure to try out different combinations before you commit. Remember, the colour of your logo will be widely associated with your brand identity. Look at what happens when you swap the colours for Coca Cola and Pepsi over… Madness.

brand and logo colours

Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • 95% of the world's top brand's logos use one or two colours
  • 41% of the brand use a stylized type as their logo
  • 93% are simple enough to be recognised at smaller sizes

If you haven't got the creativity to design your own logo and can't afford to splash out on a designer, there are loads of great online tools and generators ideal for the start-up retailer. Even if you don't decide to go with one of the designs you create using these tools, they are a great way to quickly play around with colour and design.  

Withoomph - $37

Simply enter your ecommerce store name and describe it using a few keywords. Withoomph will generate hundreds of different logos for you to choose from.

Hipster Logo Generator - Free

Exactly what is says on the tin, this generator takes trendy design concepts and makes it easy for you create your own hipster logo. Choose from a range of different tools and customisations to tweak your logo.

GraphicSprings Logo Creator – Free

Most like an illustrator's dashboard, GraphicSprings is one of the most powerful tools on our list. Break down logo types depending on your business and customise almost every part of your design.

Logaster – From $9.99

Browse through hundreds of logos, all of which can be customised with your business name, slogan, business type and colour.

Funniest brand names

For a bit of inspiration we've scoured the web for some of the funniest brand names in the UK. Clever, witty and in some cases down right cheesy, these brands are most definitely memorable.   Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

R. Soles

R Soles

Image Credit: Google Streetview

Jason Donervan

Jason Donervan

Image Credit:

Alan Cartridge

alan cartridge

Image Credit: Twitter

Farther Treads

Father Treads

Image Credit:

Bonnie Tiler

bonnie tiler

Image Credit: Twitter

Catherine Durham

Catherine Durham

Marketing Director (Dip DigM)

Catherine Durham has a masters in Digital Marketing and a wealth of experience in optimisation and strategy development for ecommerce retailers. Her specialisms include SEO, paid search, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.

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