How to Make a Good Brand Name

January 19, 2024 Content Marketing, Personal Branding 3 comments

A rose by any other name should smell just as sweet? Or would it no longer be a rose if we call it something else?

Names can be powerful. People swear by the name of God or their parents/grandparents when they make an important proclamation. For companies, catchy names like Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon have helped them to be more easily memorable — and possibly billion-dollar businesses!

In business and commerce, a name isn’t just an identifier; it’s the cornerstone of your brand’s identity. The art and science of branding hinge significantly on the apt choice of names.

Throughout history, organisations have meticulously deliberated over their names, aiming to strike a chord with their target audiences. But what transforms a name from mundane to memorable How should your brands be named — be they companies, products, or even (gasp) individuals?

In this article, we will dive into the art and science of brand names. You will learn the importance of a good brand name, examples of good brand names, how to make a good brand name, mistakes to avoid, as well as ways to discern between different types of brand names.

Why You Need a Good Brand Name

The significance of a brand name extends far beyond mere nomenclature. It’s about creating an impression that resonates with your audience and stands out in the crowded marketplace.

Consider the transformation from “BackRub” to “Google.” (Yes, we’re not kidding!) The original name, while unique, didn’t capture the essence of the vast, accessible information the search engine provided. In contrast, “Google,” a play on the mathematical term ‘googol,’ effectively communicates the idea of infinite knowledge and possibilities, aligning perfectly with the company’s vision.

Generic names like “ABC Fried Chicken” or “Number One Laundry Service” might not evoke much interest or remembrance. These names lack the uniqueness and character that help brands stand out.

On the flip side, overly complex or irrelevant names can be equally detrimental. A tech company named “Frobnicate Innovations” might struggle to connect with consumers due to its obscure and hard-to-pronounce name, which provides little insight into its services or products.

Cultural nuances also play a critical role, as what works in one market may be offensive or nonsensical in another. For example, when Chevrolet introduced their car model “Nova” in Spanish-speaking countries, they overlooked that “No va” in Spanish translates to “It doesn’t go.” This oversight could lead to a misinterpretation of the product’s quality.

Similarly, the brand “Puffs” in Germany faced challenges, as ‘Puff’ is a colloquial term for a brothel in German, which is clearly not the association a tissue company would want.

Interestingly, the entertainment industry often sets a high bar for memorable naming. Movies and hit songs, crafted by some of the most creative minds, offer inspiring examples of impactful and lasting names.

Consider the film title “Inception,” which intriguingly encapsulates the complex concept of a dream within a dream. Similarly, The Beatles’ iconic song “Yesterday” immediately evokes a sense of nostalgia, effectively capturing the song’s theme with just a single, evocative word.

10 Qualities of Effective Brand Names

Wish to generate better brand names for your organisation, products or events? Consider these 10 characteristics of good brand names:

  1. Memorable and Engaging: Names like Apple, Nike, and Lego create a lasting impact with their unique stories or through linguistic charm, akin to the alliterative appeal of Coca-Cola.
  2. Unique and Distinct: Standout brands like Spotify, Red Bull, and Urban Decay have mastered the art of converting unconventional ideas into captivating brand names.
  3. Reflect Brand Promise: Effective names mirror the brand’s core values and message. For example, Evernote implies productivity and memory, aligning perfectly with its note-taking service.
  4. Timeless: A name should maintain relevance regardless of market changes or global expansion. Starbucks, inspired by a character in “Moby-Dick,” is broad and enduring, unlike a more specific and potentially limiting name like Coffee Corner.
  5. Culturally Considerate: Names should be globally respectful and avoid unintended meanings. IKEA, using Swedish names and terms, is playful yet appropriate, whereas a name like Puff might not translate well in all cultures.
  6. Easy to Protect Legally: Ensure the name is legally available and the domain can be acquired. Names with unique spellings or foreign words, like Häagen-Dazs, often face fewer legal hurdles.
  7. Simple and Short: Brevity in naming can be more impactful. Brands like Gap, Zoom, and Axe demonstrate the effectiveness of short, direct names.
  8. Roll off the Tongue Easily: Names should be straightforward for a global audience. Google and Twitter are examples of names that are both easy to say and spell.
  9. Audibly Pleasing: Names should sound appealing and fit the linguistic preferences of the target audience. Oreo and Hulu are examples of names that are enjoyable to pronounce and hear.
  10. Imagery-Driven: A great name should evoke visual elements related to the brand. Blue Apron paints a vivid picture related to cooking and craftsmanship, while Blackberry evokes imagery of something organic and tactile.

How to Craft a Good Brand Name

Creating an effective brand name is a crucial step in defining your business’s identity. It involves understanding your brand’s core values, audience preferences, and ensuring cultural sensitivity. Here’s a simplified guide to crafting a brand name that resonates and endures:

#1 Understand Your Brand and Audience

Begin by deeply understanding what your brand stands for. If you’re in the luxury market, your name should evoke sophistication. Conversely, for a tech company, a name that suggests innovation and forward-thinking might be more appropriate.

Equally important is understanding your target audience’s preferences, language, and cultural nuances. This ensures the name appeals directly to the people you want to reach.

#2 Engage in Creative Brainstorming

Use brainstorming techniques like mind mapping or free writing. The aim is to generate a list of names that are not only unique and catchy but also reflective of your brand’s essence. Look for inspiration in unexpected places and consider names that might not be directly related to your product but capture its spirit.

#3 Perform Linguistic and Legal Checks

Make sure your chosen name doesn’t have undesirable meanings in other languages or cultures. Also, check for trademark availability and domain name options. This step is crucial to avoid legal issues and ensure your brand’s name is unique and protectable.

#4 Test and Integrate Your Name

Get feedback on your shortlisted names through surveys or focus groups. This feedback can reveal how memorable and appealing your name is to your target audience. Once a name is chosen, integrate it consistently across all your marketing materials, social media, website, and product packaging to maintain brand consistency.

#5 Keep It Simple and Memorable

Finally, a good brand name should be easy to remember and pronounce. Think of names like “Nike” or “Apple” – they are simple, yet powerful, and have become synonymous with their respective industries.

Additionally, consider the emotional connection your name should evoke and its visual representation, as this will be a key part of your brand’s identity.

Understanding Different Types of Brand Names

Brand names can be categorised into several types, each serving a unique purpose and following distinct naming conventions. The key types include corporate, product, individual, and event brand names.

#1 Corporate Brand Names

Corporate brand names represent the identity of an entire company or organization. They are designed to embody the company’s ethos, values, and market position. Corporate names like “Google” or “Microsoft” are broad, encapsulating a range of products and services under one umbrella.

These names often need to be versatile and broad enough to encompass future growth and diversification.

#2 Product Brand Names

Product brand names are specific to individual products or services offered by a company. These names usually highlight the unique selling proposition or key features of the product. For example, “iPhone” by Apple distinguishes itself by combining “Internet” and “Phone,” indicating its primary features.

Product names often require more descriptive or evocative language to directly appeal to consumers and differentiate from competitors within the same corporate brand.

#3 Individual Brand Names

Individual brand names refer to personal branding, particularly for public figures, celebrities, or influencers. These names often include the individual’s own name, like “Oprah Winfrey” or “Elon Musk.”

The focus here is on building a personal identity and reputation that can often transcend different industries or sectors. Personal branding names are closely tied to the individual’s persona and their perceived values and expertise.

#4 Event Brand Names

Event brand names are used for specific occasions, exhibitions, or conferences. These names are typically descriptive and often include the nature and purpose of the event.

Examples here include “Comic-Con” for a comic book convention or “TED Talks” for Technology, Entertainment, Design conferences.

Event names should be catchy, easily communicable, and encapsulate the essence of the event to attract the right audience and create the desired atmosphere.

Examples of Great Brand Names

Let us now take a look at some of the most powerful brand names in the corporate world.

#1 Häagen-Dazs — European Heritage?

Take Häagen-Dazs, for instance. This brand name, concocted by Reuben Mattus in 1961, is a masterclass in strategic naming. While the name suggests European heritage, it’s actually a fabrication with no real meaning.

Mattus’s intention was to associate his New York-made ice cream with the perceived superior quality of European products. This clever branding move paid off, demonstrating the power of a well-thought-out name in shaping consumer perceptions.

#2 KFC — Southern Charm Offensive

KFC, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, offers a brilliant example of brand naming. The abbreviation makes the name easier to remember and pronounce, while still retaining the essence of its original, longer name. It also subtly emphasises its Southern roots and expertise in fried chicken, crafting a strong identity in the fast-food industry.

#3 Nike — Goddess of Victory

Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory, encapsulates the essence of triumph and athleticism. This succinct, powerful name aligns perfectly with the brand’s identity in the sporting goods market, evoking a sense of achievement and excellence that resonates with athletes and sports enthusiasts worldwide.

#4 Reebok — Epitome of Agility and Grace

Reebok, named after the African antelope ‘Rhebok,’ suggests speed, agility, and grace. This name choice is emblematic of the brand’s focus on athletic footwear, mirroring the qualities that athletes aspire to. It’s a memorable and distinctive name in the competitive sports apparel market.

#5 Apple — Easy and Fruitful

Apple, chosen by Steve Jobs, breaks from traditional tech company names by adopting a simple, everyday word. This approachability and simplicity have helped the brand stand out in the technology sector.

The name Apple suggests freshness, innovation, and approachability, aligning well with the company’s ethos of user-friendly and cutting-edge products.


In the end, while a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, in the world of branding, the right name can be the difference between obscurity and memorable success. Whether it’s through clever metaphor, cultural resonance, or linguistic appeal, your brand name is more than just a label—it’s the first chapter in your business’s story.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. The Nintendo Wii comes to mind.

    When Nintendo announced that they would name their nex-gen console the Wii instead of the Revolution, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

    Many thought it rhymed with “wee” as in pee, and that it was completely illogical. I had the same thoughts.

    But look at it now. Best selling console. Is this proof that there are always exceptions to the rule?

  2. When these companies thought up their corporate names. I’m sure they never thought how their names can be interpreted

    One guy told me that “Takashimaya” is a great name as it meant “everyone definitely buy things” in Cantonese (Tai Ka Sut Mai Yeah).

    Of course, we know what “Motorola” meant in Cantonese too. 🙂

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