Hey, I think branding is fun and interesting and I'm not expert. I wish I was. Here's some thoughts I have on branding or naming your youth group. I understand that developing a brand is much more than choosing a name but the focus of this article is sheerly on naming your youth group. If you'd change or add anything, we'd love to hear about it in the comment section!
Without further ado, youth group names should:
1.) Be Youth Focused
This might seem obvious but good brand names focus on the customer, not the product. Youth groups have more “buy-in” potential when their brand is based on the people they’re serving and equipping rather than the leadership, volunteers, authorities, etc. Youth Group Names like “The Tribe” and “The Pack” let their groups know that without them – they’ve got nothing.
2.) Be Exciting
You don’t need a buzzword in order to pull this off. You can create excitement through connotations of inspiration, adventure, grandeur, etc. If you named a group “Valley Makers” for example, it would be youth focused (talking about who the group is comprised of), it would be exciting (it’s powerful, inspiring, and adventurous) and it’s also our next point: Intriguing. Valley Makers move mountains. It takes a little bit of guesswork but the meaning isn’t too hidden.
3.) Be Intriguing
Intriguing youth group names just mean that they leave a little guesswork for the uninitiated. Good brand names leave something for the imagination. What’s the “i” in iPad stand for? Individual? Intelligent? Internet? Intuitive? We don’t know but we like it and we imagine it can stand for all of those things.
4.) Be Descriptive
Think of Internet Explorer for a moment. It does what it says: It explores the internet. It leaves something for the imagination (after all, it could still be a service like Digg or StumbleUpon). It’s exciting and/or intriguing (even though it’s garnered a bad reputation for reasons other than its name) and yet it’s still descriptive… You wouldn’t guess that it was a demolition company (like you might with many YG names) nor would you assume it was a day spa or a fashion company.
5.) Feel Free to Make it Up, Change Spellings, or Create a Compound Words
Tostitos, Haagen-Dazs, and Gatorade are all examples of made up brand names. The Haaggen-Dazs founder wanted something Danish sounding and he certainly achieved that. Things like Trix, Tumblr, Reddit, are great examples of changed spellings. Good examples of compound products/brands are like iPod, Photoshop, PhotoBucket, Frigidaire, etc. These are great to employ when a group already has the name you want and you want to use it to yet distinguish yourself from them. Those Nooma videos we loved? They’re a playful or phonetic misspelling of pneuma – Greek for “spirit” or “breath.”
6.) Keep It Christian
I’m not saying that you have to keep it cliché but you shouldn’t try to avoid what you are. You’ve seen youth groups like “The Rebellion.” But then you know that when you show up, you’ll hear messages about respecting your authorities, loving your neighbors, loving your enemies and obeying the government! And you think… well this isn’t much of a rebellion. So why not be who you are? I love youth group names like “The Well.” It’s not trying to be “hip” or “cool.” It brings to mind the story of the woman at the well and the name invites us into a place where Jesus is pursuing us, getting to know us, and encouraging us to trust in Him and thirst no more. Or a name like “The Fourth Soil” or the “Good Soil” which brings to mind the parable of the soils and says, “We want to take responsibility for our faith and we want that faith to be strong and healthy and have deep roots.”
I don’t think there’s a name out there that does a great job following all of these guidelines or avoiding all the ones we talked about in our previous article (8 Reasons to Rebrand), but I think it’s important for us to consider our options and weigh the pros and cons.
Stay tuned for our next article, "Best and Worst Youth Group Names."