A Plea: Start Customer Journey Mapping Before You Ever Name Your Brand

A Plea: Start Customer Journey Mapping Before You Ever Name Your Brand

James Sandrini 27th August 2018

This is a plea. A plea to think about your potential customers from the moment you consider starting a business that will rely on their interest, engagement and money. You’ll need them.

Customer journey mapping is generally reserved for designers trying to predict how people will interact with a space or a product. They combine their experiences, both as a customer and a designer, along with whatever insight they can find, and convert this collection of riddles into decisions that make things…just…work.

There’s plenty of good and terrible UX and UI chat out there – start here if you want a grounding – and just about all of it introduces the concept later than it should.

It’s true that your day 1 proposition (the one that’s all like ‘I’ve got an idea!’) will need refining. And there may well be a shift and a shakeup along the way. But it’s remarkable how similar the audiences – at least in a horizontal, behavioural sense – are for businesses that started someplace and finished up somewhere entirely new. No shock, these pivots are more likely in response to audience demands than any other stimuli.

When you know who you’re serving and what else is out there – and most talented entrepreneurs tend to – you can start to appreciate what other human beings might want from you, and what will retain their attention.

"Because rock beat scissors, fire fights fire and founder’s own experiences – as customers themselves – do wonders to avert a naming disaster"

Naming is hard. Really hard. Michael might be an acceptable name for a baby, but if Michael broke your heart at college or stole your lunch money in primary school then there’s no way you’re naming your kid after that twat.

And before you get all ‘business decisions are far more logical, I’d never make a major decision based on raw emotion’ please go and look at yourself in a mirror, allow reality to slap the shit out of you for a minute or two, then get yourself back here.

No element of the branding process is more volatile than a naming session. With design, we can build a bridge through workshops and competitor benchmarks. With digital, can lay the groundwork with data and insight. With strategy, we can use big words and that.

So why oh why would we add more complexity to an already-fraught process? Because rock beat scissors, fire fights fire and leveraging founders own experiences – as customers themselves – do wonders to avert a naming disaster.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:


Pret. EAT. Pod.  Itsu. Leon.

Lunch words are short. And so they should be. We treat lunch differently to dinner, exalting sustenance and speed over Here are and experience. (RIP lunch).

At a time when people are making quick decisions, give them something neat and quick to read. A small site, with limited frontage – and therefore less space to share a message – will also benefit from a shorter title, more often than not.


A local brand has a very different set of competitors and a much more definable audience than a global brand. And while a colloquial sounding name might fit a vendor at a market stall every week, any brand planning to scale to new territories should think about how their moniker will be interpreted by international audiences.


If your business isn’t reliant on bricks and mortar then the channel you use to acquire customers are likely to shift to digital and, with it, limit your naming options:

– Avoid unclear punctuation (am I typing ‘and’ or ‘&’ or ‘+’ or…)

– Value terms that can be mirrored on a URL and on social

– And by all means, create a fun little word. Just make sure you have the money to throw at making it something people remember and understand

Under Armour settled on their spelling with acquisition at the forefront of their mind. Beyonce might not have given this quite as much thought.

Following & Bucking Trends

Customer journeys exist outside of a singular activity (I have 7 windows open on my Mac while typing this and my phone is barely more than 12 inches from my hand at any given point in the day), so context spans beyond how people find you and use your product, to how you compare to your competitors.

‘Think Different.’ A phenomenally successful company strapline (Apple’s stock price tripled within a year of the commercial’s release) that also directs a fundamental of any marketing activity: If your competitors are all zigging – and you can’t outspend them – then you really ought to figure out how to zag.

Take Cryptocurrency. How about starting a brand without the words ‘coin’ or ‘bit’ or ‘crypto’ in it? Their homogeneity is your advantage.

Keeping it financial, Monzo claims to be a new type of bank. It’s definitely a new kind of name for a bank, standing out from the traditional titles and acronyms that we’ve long associated with the industry.

For a long time, techy brands celebrated their techy-ness with .coms and .nets and .whatevers.

Now tech and online brands, targeting a new audience, are reverting to people’s names in an effort to distinguish themselves from the past, humanise their brands and stand out from the crowd. No, I don’t know anyone called Casper and no, I’ve never bought anything from Harry’s or Ollie, but something’s happening here.

Naming, in isolation, is rarely the reason a brand succeeds or fails (Flavour Bastard probably didn’t do themselves any favours, of course) but it’s regularly the initial point of interaction and the opening salvo in brand storytelling. Start right, think about your competition, your audience and their journey.

Oh, and don’t do what Bodega did.