Last week, we celebrated Pancake Day in the UK—a day to stuff your belly full of pancakes before Lent. For the US, our day of celebrating flat-shaped discs of sweet batter lands on the 28th February. And for lots of people, it’s a great excuse for eating pancakes, because why not?
Which got us thinking about…well, pancakes. And why we call them that. Are they really cake? And if it’s made on the griddle, does the name change? It’s a riddle. Which begs the age-old question: what’s in a name?
Know what you’re naming
A name is your product, business or, yes, pancake’s first story. Knowing what you’re naming and understanding your audience changes everything. To some, a pancake is a crepe or a blintz. To others, a drop scone. Each naming situation has its own special considerations that better help tell the story you’re after.
Remember it’s a science
Like pancakes need baking soda, naming needs a little bit of science along with its art. In the naming world, we reach for systems to help us structure. Things like, but not limited to, descriptive names (Pancake House), alliteration and rhyme (Kodiak Cakes), or acronyms (IHOP).
And what about how it sounds?
In Christopher Johnson’s book Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little, he talks about how something as small as stressed syllables can make a huge difference in brand perception. Depending on the equation of soft and sharp consonant sounds, one can feel elegant, soft, luxurious. The other bold, confident, and strong. How do you take your pancakes?
No short stack order here!
Once you’ve established your naming system, it’s time to create the names! Big names. Short names. Names with blueberries on top. Okay, now we’re getting carried away. But that’s kind of the point. Make the longest list of names you’ve ever made. Then add some more. Once you’ve had your fill, go back through the list and cross out any contenders you think don’t quite make the cut. From there, you’ll have your shortlist of names.
Add a sprinkle of legality
We call this the ‘you’re all out of pancakes’ stage. Just kidding. But sometimes it’s how it goes in the trademark world. So make sure the names on the shortlist don’t claim anything you can’t, or conflict with any existing trademarks. If one of your favourites gets chopped, you go back and make some more.
It’s not a popularity contest
Liking a name doesn’t always mean it’s up for the task. Remember, there’s a system. A name has to have structure, sound a certain way and support your brand architecture. So, keep on calling your pancakes “flapjacks” or “slapjacks” or whatever you called them growing up. As long as the name you choose functions the way you need it to, you can eat your heart out.