Brand Naming 101 - The Essential Steps to Creating a Winning Name

Brand Naming 101 – The Essential Steps to Creating a Winning Name


A brand name is vital for a company’s identity, being the first link between the business and its customers. It captures a brand’s core, making it stand out and creating a unique image in consumers’ minds. So how do you do brand naming right?

A strong brand name comes with many advantages. Think about Names like Coca Cola or Ralph Lauren. It immediately resonates trust and establishes connections with the audience. Such a name greatly influences how consumers see the brand, nurturing loyalty.

Developing a brand name involves a meticulous brand naming strategy, typically spanning about six to eight months on average. This thorough process includes extensive market research and rigorous legal evaluations. The goal is to craft a name that deeply resonates with consumers.

It is noteworthy that simplicity is a fundamental aspect, with a staggering 90% of consumers favoring easily memorable brand names. 72% of the most creative brand names are acronyms or made-up terms. Words that only have the meaning of your company name will inevitably strengthen your brand.

This blog will explore the fundamental strategies and essential considerations pivotal to the successful brand naming process. Let us get started then!  

brand naming strategy

Understanding Your Brand 

You need to define your brand identity as the first step towards understanding your brand. This needs to be followed by conducting a brand audit. Let us check these points in detail. 

a. Defining your brand identity

Mission and Values – Begin by clarifying your brand’s mission and values. What purpose does your brand serve? What core values drive your company’s decisions and actions? A clear understanding of these elements will shape the direction of your brand.

Target Audience – Determine and assess who your target market audience is. Recognise their pain spots and demographics. Creating a brand name that appeals to this demographic is essential to building a deep relationship.

Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) – Finding what makes a brand stand out from the crowd is super important. Take Tesla, for example. They focus on being innovative and environmentally friendly in the car world. And get this – their name comes from Nikola Tesla, the famous inventor. 

It fits with their mission to change the game using renewable energy and electric cars. Because of all this, Tesla’s brand value shot up by a whopping 184% in 2021, hitting $36 billion. That’s huge, and it might just make them the most valuable car brand pretty soon!

b. Conducting a brand audit 

Examining Competitors – Make a thorough examination of the brand names of your rivals. Identify naming strategies and weaknesses within your industry. This analysis will help craft a name that stands out while avoiding similarities to existing brands.

Airbnb conducted an extensive study of the travel and hospitality industry, acknowledging the necessity for a distinct brand name. In shaping their brand identity, they refrained from generic terms related to accommodations. Instead, they deliberately crafted a unique name that embodied their concept of offering ‘Air Beds’ and ‘Breakfast,’ thereby giving birth to Airbnb.

Understanding Market Trends – Stay updated on prevailing market trends and consumer preferences for looking at suitable brand names. Grasping the changing landscape will assist in selecting a name that stays pertinent and resonates with your intended audience.

Netflix transitioned from a DVD rental service to a prominent streaming platform by recognising the shift in market trends toward online streaming. They leveraged this trend by rebranding from a DVD rental service to a streaming powerhouse. Aligning their name with their new digital-focused business model and brand assets was a key move.

Evaluating Brand Associations – Assess current brand associations and perceptions. How does your brand presently fare in the market? Grasping these associations will help in devising a name that either bolsters positive perceptions or aids in reshaping your brand’s image if necessary.

Establishing Naming Criteria

A thoughtful process goes into naming your brand. it goes far beyond coming up with interesting words or descriptive names. A clear process will help the brand name to be a clear differentiator with its traits and personality. The below brand naming criteria help your company establish a strong connection with stakeholders and customers.

a. Clear and Memorable

 An effective brand name ought to be easy to recall, resonate effortlessly with consumers, and leave a lasting impression. Take Google, for instance. It is derived from the mathematical term “googol.” Its simplicity and uniqueness make it instantly recognisable and memorable.

b. Reflective of Brand Values

 An effective brand name should mirror the core values and ethos of the brand. Consider the name ‘Dove’ for a personal care brand. It symbolises purity and gentleness, aligning perfectly with its natural beauty and care brand values.

c. Relevant to the Target Audience

The chosen name should resonate with the target audience. For instance, ‘LEGO’ is derived from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well.” This name captivates children and parents by emphasising creativity and a playful spirit. TravelPerk is a good choice for an online booking platform since it incorporates both a word that is a synonym for the industry and an uplifting vocable.

d. Differentiated from Competitors

A successful brand name stands out from competitors. ‘Apple’—distinct from traditional computer-related names—conveys simplicity and a departure from the ordinary. This sets the company apart in the tech industry.

e. Future-proof and Adaptable

Consider a name’s longevity and adaptability over time. ‘Amazon,’ initially an online bookstore, expanded into various sectors. The name, associated with size and abundance (inspired by the Amazon rainforest), allowed this diversification without limiting its brand identity.

f. Legally Available (Trademark Considerations) 

Ensuring the availability of the name from a legal standpoint is crucial in this competitive landscape. Undertake thorough trademark research to prevent potential conflicts. Companies like ‘Nike’ went through rigorous legal checks to secure their name, enabling them to protect their brand identity worldwide.

Establishing clear criteria for the brand name helps guide the brand naming process. It ensures that the chosen name encapsulates the brand’s essence. Additionally, it ensures the name is legally secure and adaptable to future market dynamics.

Brainstorming and Ideation

These steps will help in the ideation stage of naming a brand.  

a. Organising a Creative Team

Assembling a diverse and multidisciplinary creative team is essential for effective brainstorming. Including individuals from various departments fosters a rich pool of ideas. Every person brings different viewpoints and levels of experience to the table. This team might consist of marketers and product developers. Representatives from different consumer segments ensure a comprehensive approach.

b. Utilising Brainstorming Techniques

1. Mind Mapping – Employing mind mapping techniques helps visualise ideas and associations. The initial step starts with a central concept (the new brand or its values). Team members branch out with related words and themes, creating a visual map to explore potential naming avenues.

2. Word Association – Stimulating free-flowing ideas through word association encourages the team to connect diverse concepts. Linking words or phrases related to the brand’s essence triggers new and unexpected name possibilities.

3. Random Stimulus – Introducing random stimuli—such as images or unrelated words—can inspire innovative thinking. This unconventional approach disrupts established thought patterns and encourages ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas.

c. Divergent and Convergent thinking

This technique allows us to look at multiple choices suitable for naming a brand. Then, we look at selecting the best options out of them. Divergent thinking involves generating a wide array of ideas as per the brand personality. You would be freely exploring various avenues and embracing creativity without constraints. It encourages the free-flowing generation of numerous possibilities. This allows to narrow down on original and diverse concepts.

On the other hand, convergent thinking entails analysing and refining these ideas. Doing so will help to identify the most suitable and effective options. It involves evaluating the generated concepts against predetermined criteria. This way, you get to narrow down choices and select the most fitting brand name.

Together, these techniques allow for expansive creativity in checking potential brand names. At the same time, it also ensures the final brand name aligns with strategic objectives and resonates with the essence of the business.

Narrowing Down Options

Carry out these steps to narrow down the perfect name out of the many choices.  

a. Evaluating Potential Names

1. Relevance to Brand Identity – Assess how well each potential name aligns with the brilliant brand identity and objectives. Ensure the name reflects the brand’s essence and resonates with its intended perception.

2. Pronunciation and Spelling – Evaluate each name’s ease of pronunciation and spelling. A phonetically pleasing name that is easy to spell enhances memorability and word-of-mouth potential.

3. Cultural Considerations – Consider cultural nuances and potential interpretations of the name across different regions or languages. Try to avoid inadvertent meanings or associations. They might conflict with the brand’s intentions.

4. Initial Impressions – Gauge initial reactions and impressions of the names within the creative team. You can analyse emotional responses and any standout attributes or drawbacks of each option.

b. Conducting Market Research

1. Surveys and Focus Groups – Get feedback via surveys and focus groups to find out how the target audience feels about the possible names. Assess preferences and associations. Also, consider any potential misunderstandings or negative connotations.

2. Social Media Feedback – Leverage social media platforms to conduct polls or engage in discussions about the proposed names. You can also check comments and shares to gauge public sentiment towards each option.

3. Testing with the Target Audience – Directly test the shortlisted names with the target audience. It is wise to use mock-ups or A/B testing for this purpose. Measure their reactions and the resonance of each name within the specific demographic.

Rigorous evaluation of potential names against predefined criteria and conducting thorough market research are vital. With this, you can narrow down options to a select few that meet the brand’s identity and resonate strongly with the target audience. 

You also need to adhere to the below legal considerations. This process protects the brand’s identity and minimises legal risks. It lays the foundation for a successful and legally sound presence in the market.

a. Conducting a Trademark Search

Before finalising a brilliant brand name, conducting a comprehensive trademark search is imperative. In this step, you can gauge existing trademarks to ensure another entity still needs to use or register the chosen name. Engaging legal professionals or specialised firms can aid in this search. They ensure thorough coverage across relevant databases to mitigate potential legal conflicts.

b. Registering the Chosen Name

Once the chosen name is verified to be available, registering it as a trademark ensures legal rights and protections. In this process, you can file trademark applications with the appropriate trademark office in respective countries or regions. Securing a trademark may protect the identity of your brand by preventing others from using the same or a similar term for related products or services.

c. Ensuring Global Availability

Do you plan to go global with expansion plans? Then verifying the global availability of the chosen name is crucial. Conducting searches and registrations in critical international markets helps prevent future complications or conflicts when entering new territories. It also safeguards against potential linguistic or cultural issues in different regions. This ensures the name maintains its intended meaning and significance worldwide.

Finalising the Name

a. Obtaining Stakeholder Approval

At this stage, you should ask key stakeholders for their permission before the formal selection. This guarantees alignment with the brand’s objectives and vision. Reaching agreement with essential team members and decision-makers strengthens commitment to the selected name.

b. Verifying Domain and Social Media Availability

You need to confirm the availability of domain names and social media handles associated with the chosen name. Securing matching domain names and available URL is an important aspect for establishing an online presence. Additionally, consistent social media handles across platforms maintain brand coherence and ease of access for consumers.

Before official adoption, it is prudent conduct a final legal review for confirming legal availability. This way, you will address all trademark and legal considerations. Engage legal experts to scrutinise the name’s eligibility, confirming that the naming complies with all legal requirements and has no potential conflicts.

d. Creating a Brand Story Around the Name

Crafting a compelling good brand story that encapsulates the essence and significance of the name enhances its impact. For this, you can develop a narrative communicating the brand’s values, aspirations, and unique characteristics associated with the chosen name. A well-crafted brand story fosters an emotional connection of the brand’s personality with consumers. This helps in establishing a deeper resonance with the brand.

Monitoring and Launching

Now that you have selected a brand name, it is time to let the world know about it with your marketing efforts. These steps will help in wrapping up the brand naming process.

a. Developing a Brand Launch Strategy

Developing a thorough brand launch strategy is essential to efficiently introducing the new name. Specify target audiences and important messaging. In this stage, you can adopt a multifaceted strategy that incorporates PR and internet marketing campaigns. Use interesting content to generate interest and awareness in the brand name.

b. Monitoring Brand Perception

After the brand launch, vigilantly monitor brand perception across various touchpoints. Utilise tools like social listening and customer feedback mechanisms to gauge how the audience perceives the brand name. You need to analyse sentiment and engagement metrics in this stage of brand building. This will help to assess initial reactions and sentiments toward the name.

c. Adapting to Feedback and Market Changes

Be proactive in responding to feedback and adapting to market changes in the brand naming process. Embrace constructive criticism and valuable insights from consumers or market trends. Based on this feedback, you can iterate and refine branding strategies or messaging. Doing so will help you to continuously align the brand with evolving consumer preferences and market dynamics.

Case Studies

Successful Brand Naming Examples

1. Spanx: The name Spanx was conceived by the company’s founder, Sara Blakely, to be brief and distinctive. It is also to express the product’s function of “sparing spanks.” With its whimsical moniker, the brand’s goal of providing slimming undergarments was perfectly aligned.

2. Red Bull: Red Bull, an energy drink brand, utilised a bold and unconventional name for its target customers. It evokes dynamism and power in brand naming. It effectively communicates the brand’s essence of energy and excitement, contributing to its global recognition.

Lessons Learned from Naming Failures

1. Pepsi AM – To compete with coffee in the morning market, Pepsi launched “Pepsi AM.” Despite the intention to signify morning consumption, the name failed to resonate with consumers.

Lesson – Ensure that the name aligns with consumer habits and perceptions.

2. Microsoft Zune – Microsoft’s attempt to challenge the iPod with the Zune fell short. The name lacked distinction and failed to capture consumer attention.

Lesson – Avoid names that don’t evoke emotions or differentiate from competitors effectively.

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This was the ultimate guide to naming a brand. Crafting a compelling great name involves strategic research and careful consideration. A successful brand naming process resonates with the brand’s identity. Creative development connects with the audience and lays the groundwork for recognition and loyalty.

Do you need a professional agency to come up with suitable company names as per your brand values? Then log in to Sortlist to get a list of branding agencies that can be of assistance. They will help in creating a name that becomes synonymous with your brand’s values and aspirations. This is sure to leave a lasting impact on consumers and fosters the brand’s success.


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