How to choose your brand’s name?

Coined words or descriptive ones? Family names or acronyms? What to do? How to decide? Today, I will give you some tips on identifying the type of name you should choose for your brand.

Brand names come in all shapes and types. Some of them are descriptive; some of them are made up. Each type of name has different strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the type of name is strictly a strategic decision. The following tips should help you with your decision:

  • At product level, you might want to use a descriptive name if you invented a new category. Bose did it with its beautiful noise-cancelling headphones. At corporate level, descriptors are more suitable as a sub-brand underneath a more established brand. (I.e. GE Healthcare, TMX Venture Exchange)
  • Acronym names are suitable only for established companies that have been around for a long time. We have already wrote a detailed article about when do acronyms work.
  • Founder’s name is very common in sectors that require a sense of heritage or expertise. If you are highly associated with an attribute or value of your brand, then your name should work just fine. (I.e. Michael Jordan and excellence in basketball or Charles Schwab and investment)
  • Metaphor names offer flexibility and versatility. They are very powerful. Probably the most promising of all types. The catch is the difficulty of finding one. (Amazon is where you find everything you want to buy. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory.)
  • Connotative names are appropriate for new products in which your company is first to market. They communicate benefit and attributes clearly. (I.e. Bixi – Bicycle/taxi) However, connotative names are too popular especially among technology and online companies. (Remember Initech from the Office Space?)
  • Abstract names are the easiest to trade mark and recognize. Also they are a great fit for dynamic firms whose businesses evolve over time. (I.e. Xerox Software programs) These names require significant investment to get off the ground. But once they take off, the sky is the limit.
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