Choosing the Right Name for Your Brand

Coming up with a viable name for your brand is exciting, intimidating and––let’s be honest––frustrating as hell. We’ve been part of a few brand-naming projects in our day and thought we’d share some tips, tricks and lessons we’ve learned along the way.


Types of Brand Names

Generally speaking, brand names fall into four different buckets: descriptive, experimental, acronyms and invented.

  1. Descriptive. Descriptive brand names are effective because they plainly explain the premise of a brand, connecting the dots for new customers. Names like Paypal, Toys R Us, and Shoppers Drug Mart are just a few examples of household brand names that communicate the core service or product these brands deliver.

    One challenge with descriptive brand names is that they can be constraining and make it difficult for brands to evolve their offerings over time.

Acronyms. Some of the world’s largest brands use acronyms. RIM, BMW, HSBC, VW are just a few more recognizable ones. Acronyms are great for longer, complex names. Some reasons you may choose an acronym are:

  • Using technical or industry language
  • Acronyms are easily searchable
  • Reduce the chance of misspelling
  • Often, acronyms are easier to trademark
  • Work well in multilingual marketsPro tip: If considering an acronym (or any name for that matter), be sure to research the names meanings in different languages.

Sometimes the primary goal of a brand name is to get attention and differentiate you from your competitors. Made-up names are less likely to have competition (helpful when trademarking), and don’t carry the baggage you experience with different kinds of naming conventions.

Inventive names can be poetic, or even onomatopoeia; “the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named”. Take Kodak for example; a brand name that was thought to mimic the sound of a camera taking a photo.


Experiential Names. Unlike descriptive brand names, experiential brand names communicate the value or benefit of a brand. They play on the feeling or experience that a brand offers.

Yahoo, for example, is an experiential brand name that communicates the feeling a user has when they finally find the content they’re seeking. These names are positioning statements; a promise for what a customer can expect to feel or experience when engaging the brand.



Lessons Learned

Committees Kill Names. If you’ve ever tried to land on a brand name with a committee, you know this all to well. Committees are the bane of creativity. Branding overall should remain a c-suite activity, so try to limit those involved to key decision makers.

Choose your brand team wisely. Each person in the room should serve a specific purpose. Who’s generating the names? What skill or qualifications do they bring to the table? Who’s testing or vetting the names?

Research, Research, Research. What domain names are available? Are the social media handles and account names relevant to your name taken? Is there an existing or pending trademark for your name? There’s nothing more heart wrenching than landing on the perfect name only to discover you can’t use it. Also be sure to research your competitors, industry trends, and as always – know your customers.

Preference Testing. Preference tests are a useful way to help choose between design, logo and naming variations. We’ll often use UsabilityHub to test logo & name combinations.

Be Patient. The most common reason a branding process go awry is lack of time. Be sure you have the time, resources and team in place to really commit and craft a brand you and your customers are proud of.

Hopefully this list provided some value for you as you aim to craft that perfect brand. If you’re at the beginning of your branding journey and are looking for naming, logo or brand messaging help, give us a shout.


Feeling Lucky? Use these tools below to help generate some ideas.

Brand Name Generators:

Additional Reading / Resources