Three Branding Strategies for Creating a Solid Corporate Identity
When it comes to finding the right company name, a lot depends on the industry sector and competitive landscape. For financial services companies, where credibility is a big concern, there is a fine line between brand names that stand out too much (like a web 2.0 company) and ones that blend in (and read like descriptive yellow page listings.) To demonstrate the polar "bookends" of branding, Slam Dunk Capital would be a bit much, whereas Capital Management Associates would be a real yawner. The following naming strategies will provide you with tools for creating a company name that is both memorable and credible.
Strategy 1: Perennials or Evergreen Brand Names
A good middle ground for financial services companies, is what we call "perennials" or "evergreen" brand names. This type of company naming strategy involves creating unique brand names based on combining words with pre-existing positive equity. A few examples of this naming strategy in operation are...
FreedomPeak Financial - This pre-retirement planning firm chose an aspirational name that speaks to "climbing higher," "reaching a goal," and "attaining the summit."
Parkworth Wealth Management - This perennial name evokes a park-like image of growth and vitality, combined with the industry related word of "worth," giving it a calm, reassuring and professional image.
FourBridges Capital - By using both perennial/evergreen words and a metaphor, this name communicates the message of "bridging the gap" and providing access to capital.
BeaconPath - Beacon communicates both intelligence and insight. The word "path" conveys leadership and direction. Both attributes work for this HR/employee benefits and business insurance provider known for innovative financial solutions.
With this type of corporate branding, a financial services company can achieve the dual goals of owning a unique space in the industry, while still sounding and appearing professional and credible.
Strategy 2: Coined/Invented Company Brand Names
A second naming option is invented/coined brand names. These are sometimes referred to as "empty vessel" names, since they contain no pre-existing meaning. That presents both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity lies in the ability to create/write your own brand story from scratch. The challenge with a coined name is that the meaning must be gained over time, or bought through expensive marketing. Examples of financial services companies that have used invented names are...
Strategy 3: Descriptive Hybrid Company Names
A third alternative is to create a descriptive hybrid name. These names are popular in many business-to-consumer brands such as JetBlue, CarMax and OfficeDepot, but they also exist in the financial industry sector. One example is TradingBlock, an online options trading platform. By providing an industry descriptive word (in this case "Trading") and pairing it with a perennial word (Block = strong, solid, dependable) a brandable name emerges. Other financial companies that have employed this naming method are...
Traps to Avoid When Naming Your Financial Services Company
Naming Pitfall #1: Using surnames as your company name - Last names are inherently unfamiliar, sometimes hard to spell and take time to gain recognition. They are also problematic when it comes time to sell the business. The name can also make the company sound small and botique-ish. So unless you have a 20-plus year legacy name, such as E.F. Hutton, it's best to brand your company with a name that supports your brand message.
Naming Pitfall #2: Using acronyms in your brand name - Financial firms will often shorten a long generic name into an acronym, only to find themselves competing with every other acronym based brand on the planet. Unless you are IBM, avoid the trap of shortening your name into a cryptic message. If not, you'll leave consumers trying to recall company names such TIAA-CREF.
Bringing It All Together
By reviewing these three methods and seeing which one(s) best suit your needs, you can better name, brand and position your financial services company for future growth. You'll have a name that is both unique enough to stand out, yet credible and trustworthy to potential clients. And with more naming strategies, you'll also have more options to choose from, giving you a better chance to pass trademark hurdles and obtain a matching domain name. Aim for a final list of three to five company names that have matching, or closely matching, domain names to pass by your legal counsel. From the ones that remain, pick the one that best reflects your company's core values and attributes. In the end, you'll have a unique, "ownable," and timeless brand name that will stand the test of time.
About the author: With over twenty five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.
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