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How To Come Up With A Brand Name: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated: January 29, 2020
How to come up with a brand name
77% of people make purchases based on brand name only.

Name is one of your brand’s most valuable assets. It is how your customers remember, know and refer to your business, and it is how they get to trust it.  

As many as 77% of the people purchase products whose brand names they recognize. 

And as many as 75% of people would pay more for a product whose name they recognize and trust.

On the business side of things, name recognition plays an important role in securing funding as 82% of investors admit that it is an important factor in investment decisions.

In this guide, we’ll look at the key characteristics of a memorable name, as well as the key principles experts use when naming a brand. 

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The Characteristics Of Successful Brand Names

Most world-renowned brands have shared qualities that play to their identity and memorability. These qualities will help you critically assess your options and guide you in your brand naming process:  

Good Brand Names Are Simple And Memorable

A big part of creating a powerful business identity and branding strategy is finding a name that the target audience can remember.

A study that looked at 700 stocks traded between 1990 and 2004, and concluded that brands with simple names earned at least 11% more than those with complex ones.

There are many examples to support this. Think:

  • Dove
  • Olay
  • Twix
  • Pepsi
  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Google
  • Apple
  • HP

Brands with simple names have 11% higher earnings on average

Successful Brand Names Are Futureproof

Businesses and brands evolve, so when coming up with brand name ideas that won’t become obsolete fast, it is important to think about the big picture.

In other words: Do not use highly specific brand names if you are unsure how your business would brand out in the future. 

For example, Women’secret is a highly specific name for a women’s lingerie brand which would make it difficult to diversify the offering and cater to male demographics under the same roof. 

Amazon, on the other hand, is a prime example of a company that outgrew its original purpose, but had a name flexible enough to encompass a highly diverse inventory the company is now known for.

Good Brand Names Are Original

Following the key principles is great, but ultimately, your brand name should represent your unique identity.

Your brand name can tell a story, carry a legacy or entertain. 

Take Adidas: Its unique name was inspired by its founder Adolph “Adi” Dassler name. 

BMW is an acronym for its widely unknown original German name Bayerische Motoren Werke.

The more you learn about them, the more you realize that every great brand name has a unique story behind it.

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How To Come Up With A Brand Name Using These Key Principles

The key approach to naming your brand is to start with the big ideas and then go small and specific. That is why, before thinking about the actual name, there are several things that need defining first.

Focus On Your Audience

64% of customers said that shared values are the primary reason they trust a brand.

Knowing your target audience will help you:

  • Find inspiration: Identify your target market’s favorite brands and draw inspiration for your own. 
  • Find a voice: Let your audience help you find your identity and brand voice. This will play an important role in name selection.
  • Connect: Basing your brand name on your target market’s preferences will increase your brand’s likeability. 

Specifically, brands whose target audience is generally low-knowledge more often use abstract names to convey moods or activities associated with the brand. Because their demographics are low on product or service knowledge, it’s all about selling the brand – not product or service.

Brands with high-knowledge shoppers have “muted” names that allow customers to focus more on the measurable quality of the product and service rather than rely on the brand name. Fashion brands, for instance, are often named after their founders (Dior and Chanel, for instance). Their names imply and highlight the quality rather than project an association or image.

In the case of high-knowledge shoppers, it’s the intrinsic quality of the product that sells. The name of the brand is a factor, but not as big.

64% of consumers trust brands primarily because of shared values

Find Your Brand Archetype

The concept of an archetype is derived from Jungian psychology and frequently applied to branding ideas. It refers to a universally familiar character that helps experts infuse brands with personality customers can relate to. :

To apply this concept to your brand name, start by thinking about your:

  • Audience’s collective persona: Who is this persona? What do they look like? What do they sound like?
  • Brand’s persona: How does it (or will it) resemble that of your audience’s persona or their aspirations? 

There are twelve main brand archetypes:

  • The Innocent (the desire for safety)
  • Everyman (belonging)
  • Hero (mastery)
  • Outlaw (liberation)
  • Explorer (freedom)
  • Creator (innovation)
  • Ruler (control)
  • Magician (power)
  • Lover (intimacy)
  • Caregiver (service)
  • Jester (enjoyment)
  • Sage (understanding)

To find your brand archetype, consider these questions:

  • What brand values do you want to communicate?
  • Is there a historical/mythical personification of the said values?
  • Do you want to bring a sense of luxury or affordability to your customers? 
  • What are the non-verbal and emotional associations you want to create for your brand?

Here are some real-life examples of archetypes used to build brand image:

  • Nike: This well-known brand is also the name of the ancient Greek goddess who personified victory. 
  • Dove: Doves conjures the images of purity and softness – qualities of the Innocent archetype.
  • Channel: A brand of the Lover archetype maintains an amorous atmosphere in marketing campaigns.

Companies build the meaning of the brand name through stories, products, marketing activities and visual associations.

Some of these names use phonetic symbolism to support their archetype.

Reflect The Tone And The Function Of Your Offering

The name of the brand can set a certain tone which becomes a character and attitude of a business.

The brand tone has two primary functions:

  • To speak to your audience
  • To reflect your business goals and needs

A defined tone can give you control over your audience’s perception of your brand. Some of the tones your brand can employ are:

  • Emotional: EveryHand and Sharing Spoon
  • Intriguing: RocketSlice, Alchemitics, Ethica
  • Playful: Blink Of An AI, Playformance, The Whey to Go
  • Pragmatic: Rentcierge, Simple Key Realty, The Tea Shack
  • Innovative: Apple, Netflix, Amazon
  • Prestigious: Dior, Cartier, Swarovsky

65% form emotional connection with a brand that makes them feel cared for

Check The Availability Of A Potential Business Name

57% of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. Businesses must strive to choose a name that is available across platforms.

  • Do a domain name search with multiple providers.
  • Look for companies using similar brand name on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Make sure your potential names are not trademarked. 
  • Think carefully about the extension of your internet domain – make .com, .net and .org a priority, if they are available.

When looking at legal availability of your desired brand name and registration of the website domain, bear in mind that, thanks to advanced SEO and brand signals, it’s not as important any longer to choose the name of the brand based on available domain names at it used to be. 

57% of customers say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow

Tips For Generating Brand Name Ideas

When considering how to come up with brand name ideas that speak to your audience persona and represent your brand archetype, there are certain principles that make the process more streamlined and simpler:

  • Keep the brand name simple: Ideally, it should be a two-syllable word as they have a better-staying power in the minds of customers.
  • The name should also be descriptive: the reason why archetypes convey emotions with people is that they capture the collective essence and experience. That’s how descriptive a brand name should be – it should communicate essence, experience and benefits of the brand’s products in a suggestive manner.
  • Use word association to brainstorm good brand name ideas: Write down as many words as you can think of that are in some way associated with your brand. These can be combined or narrowed down to a few which can be worked on and tested.
  • The name should be trendy, but not too much trendy: Something that is “in” today may be completely “out” tomorrow. Strive to have a name that contemporary people can relate to and that will endure the years ahead.

Final Takeaways For Coming Up With A Brand Name

The main benefits of coming up with a good name brand are:

  • It adds value to your products and services
  • It lends identity to your business
  • Good brands become synonymous with products they make
  • It drives sales and revenue

What are the traits of a successful brand name?

  • They are simple and memorable
  • They are future-proof
  • They are original

The main steps to consider when coming up with a brand name are:

  • Collect the broad set of ideas of what it is that makes your business. Think about your story, your origins and your big ambitions and ideas.
  • Think of a name that caters to the aesthetics and values of your audience as well as your business ambitions.
  • Tap into your brand archetype and your audience persona to find your voice and messaging.
  • The brand tone should speak to your audience and reflect your business tendencies.
  • When brainstorming the name ideas, try to be trendy, but not overly trendy.

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