Naming your brand is one piece of a successful branding puzzle, and today, I’m talking about how the best, most recognisable brand names do it. Brand names with staying power all have a number of things in common, and they’re powerful pieces of advice for building your brand.

Characteristics of Successful Brand Names

Long-time popular brand names, when seen or heard, bring back floods of memories for consumers. Those memories either push them toward purchase or away from it. Your number one priority, as a brand developer or manager, is to create the positive memories that will be associated with your brand name. You must build trust, establish expertise, build a brand with longevity and the ability to evolve…and attached to all of that should be a brand name that carries it all with ease.

So, how did the biggest brand names do it?

Here are some of the qualities that the best brand names have in common:

  • Communication of Values: Of course, a word or phrase has limited power; however, your brand name should hint at the list of corporate values that you’ve chosen to communicate through your brand. This will help draw those consumers who share those values to your brand.
  • Consider the URL: Check available domain names as you cross brand name possibilities off your list. If you can score a domain name (URL) that matches your brand name, you’ve just made your brand easier to find.
  • Consider the Industry: Many times, you’ll notice that brand names within a particular industry all have something about their names in common. It’s up to you (or your branding company) to decide if complying with this culture is a good move. Oftentimes, that root word or naming structure can communicate a wealth of information about your brand, to the people who know and appreciate its meaning.
  • No Tongue-Twisters: If you want people to talk about your brand name, we suggest making it simple to pronounce. The most successful brand names aren’t as creative as they are communicative. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, including those brands for which an exclusivity marketing technique will be employed, through the pronunciation of its brand name (e.g. For the most part, only customers of Aéropostale know how to pronounce its name.)
  • Consider the Visual: How will your chosen brand name look in print? Will it be visually appealing in your chosen font? Will it resemble any other non-supportive phrases…or cultural faux-pas?

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  • Give it a Name to Live up to: If you’ve ever heard a parent lament about a child, “She should have been a [insert name here],” then you understand the importance of this tenet. You know your target audience and you know the flavour of your brand, therefore you have a finger on its ‘personality.’ Using what you know, give it a name that fits its ‘personality,’ to promote the continence that every brand needs.
  • Avoid the Think-Thank: You and your branding company know your brand best. Brand names have discovered, the hard way, that bringing in panels or think-tanks tends to muddy the waters…to un-focus the brand’s punch. If you do need inspiration, your target audience will offer the best kind of intelligence.
  • Consider the Steering: When you devise a list of possible brand names, take the time to audition each one in a marketing mock-up. Consider the direction each one favours, and determine if that’s good or bad for your brand.
  • Study your Competitors: Which brand names have taken the lead? Which ones are barely recognisable? Study them and take what you learn to your own brand-naming process.
  • Keep it Legal: Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you cover all bases in the legality department. Ensure that you’re violating no trademarks and obtain a trademark for your own brand name, to protect it.
  • Consider your Global Audience: Will you take your brand to the global market? If so, look into how well your brand name will translate, and if any cultural faux-pas will hurt your brand’s reputation.

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Choosing brand names involves far more than pulling names out of the sky, or settling on names that sound clever. At How to Build a Brand, we not only understand the requirements, we have the knowledge and expertise necessary for creating impactful brand names.

Need help with naming your brand? Or wondering if you’ve made the right decision? We’re here to help. Simply call us on +44 (0) 208 123 6776, email us at [email protected], or sign up for free weekly branding tips with our Lite Membership.

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