How to choose a brand name for your business or product

A practical look at some of the factors which should be considered in choosing a name.

The most important part of starting your company or creating a new brand is choosing a great name. It is very easy to hate a name – sorry Jayden – which is exactly why choosing a great one is so difficult. So far as a brand goes, the main goal of a name is to be memorable, unique, and descriptive. What exactly goes into creating a name which achieves all three of these goals and more is hard to account for. We all know of great brands; Companies or Products, but do all great brands have great names? Without making too many chicken and egg or cart and horse analogies, let’s look at some of the practical factors which should be considered in choosing a name for your venture.

Things to consider when choosing a name:

Choose a unique name for your brand.

By this point in time, you should have already completed at the very least, a preliminary market research and possibly a competitive analysis. Even an hours worth of research into the industry will give you a decent idea of common naming conventions.

You could play it safe by following these naming conventions, but you would be better served to think of a way to differentiate. The decision to do so, even at this stage could send your brand on a completely different trajectory. This is a good thing, as there’s nothing worse for a young brand than blending in.

Your brand name should be easy to say.

Whatever name you choose should be easy to say. Most of the time it isn’t to your advantage to pick a tongue-twister. The longer and harder a name is to say, the less likely it will be remembered. By choosing a name which is difficult to pronounce, you’re also opening your brands’ core element up to re-interpretation.

Difficult to pronounce or long names are typically shortened or altered in the name of efficiency. Acronyms, short-names or nick-names for a brand may not always be flattering. Planning for this outcome can help you avoid slang terms which could damage the brands’ reputation.

A brand name should also be easy to spell.

It has always been important to have proper spelling. This is more the case today than ever before. The reason is almost entirely due to the prominence of online search. Search Engine Optimization is incredibly important for a new brand to succeed. If your new brands’ name is hard to spell, your customers will find it impossible to find.

Proper words, as well as invented brand names’ must be easy to spell. For this reason, many brands who have been beaten to the punch for obtaining a brand name have become ‘hooked on phonics‘ as a way of make searching and spelling out their company easier.

Whatever you do, be memorable.

The single most important factor in this process is being memorable. The entire idea of a great name is to stick in your prospects mind. Without a memorable name, you have no position, no prospects, no brand and unfortunately no income. Below is a list of the 20 most valuable brands in the world;

  • Honda
  • Amazon
  • Oracle
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Gillette
  • HP
  • Disney
  • Cisco
  • BMW
  • Mercedez-Benz
  • Toyota
  • Intel
  • Samsung
  • McDonalds
  • GE
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Coca-cola
  • Google
  • Apple

Alliteration: The use of the same consonant ( consonantal alliteration) or of vowel, not necessarily the same vowel ( vocalic alliteration), at the beginning of each word or each stressed syllable in a line of verse, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran. Some brands which utilize alliteration are:

  • American Airlines
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • BlackBerry
  • Chuckee Cheese’s
  • Coca-Cola
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Molly Maid
  • PayPal

Rhyme:  A word agreeing with another in terminal sound: Find is a rhyme for mind and womankind. Some brands which utilize rhyme are:

  • Ditch Witch
  • Piggly Wiggly
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Seven Eleven
  • Stub Hub

Onomatopoeia: The formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated, such as hiss, buzz, and bang. Some brands which utilize onomatopoeia are:

  • Mmmuffins
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
  • Snapple

There are many, many literary devices which can be used to make your brand name more memorable and easier to say. Some of these are; acronym, amalgam, appropriation, founders’ names, neologism, personification, and more.

If you can’t do any of the above, at least be clear, be descriptive.

If you are not able to do any of the above, at least have the name make sense. Differentiation and creativity behind any name will only make sense so long as there is an overall gain from doing so. If you are working within a constrained industry, corporation, or structure you would be best served by having a pragmatic and descriptive name. That way it at least makes sense. Below are some very descriptive brand names;

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • General Motors
  • International Business Machines
  • Pizza Hut
  • Toys R’ Us

Finally, make absolutely certain that the name you want is available.

All of the creativity, planning and most of your research will be useless if, at the end of a naming process, you discover that you have to begin from scratch. Make absolutely certain that the name you want to go with is not in use in whichever area of the world you want to conduct business in.

Finding out if someone already has your name is easier now than ever before, simply search online. Here are the trademark registration search directories for both the United States and Canada.


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