How To Choose a Great Brand Name

How To Choose a Great Brand Name
The process of generating a brand name

Steps for naming a company:

Step 1 – Choose the type of name

Step 2 – What do you want to say?

Step 3 – Is the name available?

There are estimated 300 mln companies in the world Today.

That’s 300 mln brands.

Some brands as big as Apple and Coca-Cola.

Others as small as one person business.

With so many brands in the World, is getting harder and harder to create and find a unique name.

But naming a company is a crucial step in the process of branding.

Before you start your logo design, you must select a name first.

The right name needs to be timeless, tireless, easy to say and remember.

It stands for something, and facilitates brand extensions.

Its sound has rhythm and it looks great in the text of an email and in the logo.

So, how do you create a great brand name?

How to play and win the name game? – Start with 3 simple steps:

Step 1 – Choose the type of brand name

There are six different categories of names and pretty much every company in the world falls into one of them:

1. Name after founder

Many companies are named after founders: Ben & Jerry’s, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger. It might be easier to protect. It satisfies an ego.

The downside is that it is inextricably tied to a real human being.

Well-known brands named after founder:

2. Descriptive name

Descriptives names work by telling you exactly what the company does. These names convey the nature of the business.

Descriptive name can be much harder to own and protect.

Well-known descriptive brand names:

3. Fabricated name

Because it’s so hard to find new names, companies like Kleenex and Pinterest have invented names by changing, adding or removing letters or combining two or more words for impact.

Made-up names are distinctive and might be easier to copyright.

Invented names can be highly unique, but if you’re not careful they will start to sound like pharmaceutical drugs.

Well-known invented brand names:

4. Metaphore name

They work by reflecting imagery and meaning back to the brand.

Metaphore names are interesting to visualize and often can tell a good story.

The Amazon in South America is the world’s largest river – therefore the world’s biggest selection of books, clothes etc. Nike is a greek goddess of victory.

Well-known metaphore brand names:

5. Acronym name

Acronyms are just short-hand version of descriptive name. Some acronyms are more strategic.

These names are difficult to remember and difficult to copyright.

Kentucky Fried Chicken switched to KFC, because fried chicken didn’t sound to healthy. And the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Bank changed to HSBC to help the bank expand globally.

Well-known acronym brand names:

6. Real word name

Real words like Uber or Slack are taken out of a dictionary and suggest attributes or benefits.

“Uber” literally means an outstanding example. So it works well for a company with big, bold, broad ambitions beyond ride hailing.

It’s hard to find any real words left in a dictionary.

Real words may seem like a good idea but in the world of 300 mln companies its getting harder to find a name.

Well-known suggestive type brand names:

Some of the best names combine name types. Some good examples are Cingular Wireless, Citibank.

Customers and investors like names that they can understand.

Step 2 – What do you want to say?

Once you’ve selected what type of name:

You need to decide what you want the name to say.

And it’s tempting to create a name that says about those who created them, or what you do, or where you operate.

But the best brand names don’t describe. They stand for a big idea and the words are translated into emotional appeal.

  • Nike is about winning.
  • GoPro is about heroism.
  • Apple is about simplicity and usability.
  • Google is number with 1 and 100 zeroes after it.

So that really big number help support company’s really big original vision – to organize worlds information.

Think carefully and ask yourself:

What’s your big idea?

as you think about your new business name.

Step 3 – Is the name available?

The third step is to check if the name isn’t already taken.

Is the domain name available?

You might have to create hundreds of names perhaps thousands – before you find one that is even available.

And of course check if the name doesn’t mean any negative in other languages or countries.

The last things you want – is embarrassing naming fail.

The wrong type of name

The wrong name for a company, product, or service can hinder marketing efforts, through miscommunication or because people cannot pronounce it or remember it.

Naming requires a creative, disciplined and strategic approach.

It can subject a company to unnecessary legal risks or alienate a market segment. Finding the right name that is legally available is a gargantuan challenge.

Choosing the right name

The right name captures the imagination and connects with the people you want to reach.

The right name has the potential to become a self-propelling publicity campaign, motivating word of mouth, reputation, recommendations, and press coverage.

Qualities of an effective name:

  • Meaningful
    It communicates something about the essence of the brand. It supports the image that the company wants to convey.
  • Distinctive
    It is unique, as well as easy to remember, pronounce, and spell. It is differentiated from the competition.
  • Future-oriented
    It positions the company for growth, change, and success. It has sustainability and preserves possibilities. It has long legs.
  • Modular
    It enables a company to build brand extensions with ease.
  • Protectable
    It can be owned and trademarked. A domain is available.
  • Positive
    It has positive connotations in the markets served. It has no strong negative connotations.
  • Visual
    It lends itself well to graphic presentation in a logo, in text, and in brand architecture.


Finally, a few words about Alphabet.

The parent company of Google and now one of the World’s most valuable companies.

Is “Alphabet” a great name?

You bet.

First of all, the name is an idea.

As we all know the alphabet is a set of letters that form basis for all of the language and communication.

Second, the provides the playful link to the companies underneath: G for Google, N for Nest, and so on.

Naming encourages the Wall Street investors.

Buy this stock and you making an alpha-bet.

But there’s one problem with that name:

BMW owns the domain

However, it isn’t much of an issue these days.

Now that we find stuff through google search, and we connect with brands through social media and smartphone apps.

So Alphabet the company forgot about the and instead found a shorter, more unique web address:

That’s clever – isn’t it?

Ready to start searching for your business name?

Check this comprehensive naming resource first.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.