How To Come Up With a Brand Name: The Most Inclusive Guide to Naming

Author
Dmitry Chervonyi
Published
08/22/2022
Reading duration
15m
Sand via email
Save in Pocket
Save in Flipboard
Send in Messenger
Send in Messenger
Send in Whatsapp

When coming up with a brand name, you set a starting point for creating and strengthening your brand image. A good name helps your company stand out from the crowd and be in the spotlight of the target audience.

If you successfully name your brand, it is guaranteed to resonate in the hearts of your potential consumers. For example, most people think that words such as Bubble Wrap, Dictaphone, Coke, Fiberglass, Frisbee, Jeep, Kleenex, and Lava Lamp are product names. However, these are brand names that people have come to use as generic names. That’s what we call great branding!

But how to come up with a brand name that will skyrocket your brand? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and we know how difficult it can be to come up with a cool name that works. That is why we’ll cover the following in this blog:

  • What is brand naming?
  • Why does your company need a great brand name?
  • What are popular modern naming concepts?
  • What are some examples of good brand names?

We will also share some tips on creating different brand names, evaluating the risks, and registering a new company name. Let’s go!

Why Does One Need To Name a Brand?

The name is the key to all positive experiences associated with the brand. A good brand name can:

  1. Determine what place the company will occupy in the market and what it will stand for in the minds of customers;
  2. Make the brand recognizable;
  3. Increase the popularity of the product or service you need to sell (believe us, when it comes to marketing, a name that rocks will help tremendously);
  4. Actively attract the target customers;
  5. Contribute to creating the right image;
  6. Help the brand to stand out amongst the competitors;
  7. Help advertise your product or service and become an independent tool for marketing promotion;
  8. Help you clarify your industry and share your values.

If you figure out how to name a brand successfully, you will not only save a fortune on promotion but also draw additional income through effective interaction with your audience.

What Makes Good/Bad Brand Name?

There are some things that only you can do: listen to your heart and choose a name you like that fits your brand. For everything else we’ve mentioned above, there’s Belkins, an international sales agency offering lead generation, database research, and sales development services to companies operating in B2B markets.

What Is Naming a Company All About?

Naming is the process of developing a brand name for a company, product, or service. It is the most important part of the company’s marketing strategy and an integral part of brand positioning.

When coming up with a B2C company name or building a B2B brand name, ensure it is understandable, memorable, expresses the essence of the brand, and matches the company’s positioning and target audience since these are the main goals of naming.

So how to come up with a brand name that hits the bull’s-eye? Your brand name should comply with the following naming principles:

  1. Be concise and sonorous. It should be memorable and easy to pronounce or write down. No matter what naming technology you choose fora B2B or B2C business, this is the main rule to follow if you want to succeed. By the way, a one-word name is the best option;
  2. Be appealing. Pick a name that most of your target customers will like and that will make them want to find out more about your company;
  3. Correspond to the core idea and be meaningful. The name should reflect the style and essence of the product and your industry;
  4. Be vibrant. This will help your brand name stand out among other companies;
  5. Match the market and price category. The name can give customers a clue as to which consumer segment the product or service is aimed at;
  6. Create positive associations. The name equates to great experiences, products, services, etc. in the minds of your potential customers;
  7. Be unique. The title you’ve come up with must not be already registered and used by another company.

The naming process does not exist in a vacuum and affects the following areas:

  • Marketing: Research audience requests, competitors’ offers, and market trends;
  • Linguistics: Discover a good name with semantic analysis, including translating into other languages;
  • Law: Assess the name registration process and the possibility of name protection.

Also, remember this rule: Your brand name and logo, along with the descriptive element (that helps define the market in which the product is offered), always work in tandem.

The process of B2B company product naming is similar to that of B2C, and it is quite important to consider the target audience’s features and the field’s priorities. Read more in our B2B blog.

Examples of Good Naming

With a good name, a brand can stand out. Here are some catchy names of classic companies and young startups, as well as exciting naming concepts:

WhatsApp The name combines the popular "What's up!" greeting and the word “application”.
BlaBlaCar If you combine the well-established expression that means “to talk about anything” and the word “car,” you get a unique name for an online search service for car travel companions.
Zebrew Brewery The Serbian brewery mixed the words “zebra” and “brew” and got a unique brand name! The signature colors of the brand are, of course, black and white, and a zebra is their trademark.
OHMY We bet these guys didn’t even bother about how to come up with a brand name for a clothing company of theirs. Catchy, isn’t it?
Sun of a Beach Who would have thought this famous phrase would make up such a good brand name? It uses homophones or words pronounced the same but spelled differently. By the way, there is a clue on the package: a surfboard!
Muscle Rehab Here’s a simple yet unique and descriptive fitness brand name of a wellness studio in Costa Mesa, CA.
Tesla It’s probably one of the most famous names in the field of electrical engineering. Tell us, is there a better way to name an innovative company that develops electric cars?
Squatty Potty This one is a cool rhyming name, boldly speaking about a subject that is not commonly talked about out loud. This naming perfectly communicates its task, giving you a playful, descriptive clue about the product.
7-Eleven In 1946, the international American convenience store chain changed its name from Tote’m to “7-Eleven” to reflect the company’s new extended hours: from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. Such a smart move!
Groupon It’s the descriptive name of a digital coupon provider, created by combining the words “group” and “coupon”.
Ruffles, Frills and Bows These people knew exactly how to come up with a brand name for a clothing company that demonstrated their product’s features.
Bug B Gone It is a popular, rechargeable, and portable insect repellent. This name is simple, cute, recognizable, and short.
iRobot This is a fairly understandable, descriptive, and fashionable name for a company specializing in robotics production: robots sappers, scout robots, and robot vacuums.

Modern Concepts of Naming

Has inspiration left you when you need to invent a sharp name for your product? Here are some basic tricks you can use:

  1. Backward words. Common words written backward often become finds for startups! It is important that the original word fully reflects the essence of the business — for example, Harpo (Oprah), Aneres (Serena), and Xobni (inbox);
  2. Food products. Apple created this trend, and many young startups with nothing to do with the food business have started to use food products in their brand names. Examples: Cheddar (news network), Plum (smart money app), and Donut Media (media for car enthusiasts);
  3. Misspellings. Intentional typos attract attention and help create catchy names. Examples: Tumblr (tumbler), Consmr (consumer), Flud (flood), Gyft (gift), Fotopedia (photopedia), Google (googol), and Xoom (zoom);
  4. Hybrid names. You can make up a new word semantically or phonetically. Examples: Facebook, Skillshare, Milewise, Timehop, Betaworks, Fitbit, Getaround, Geeklist, and LaunchRock;
  5. Associations. A good name should give rise to a bright, understandable association with a product or service and be easy to remember. Examples: Prisma, Uber, Peerby, and Airbnb;
  6. Replacing the first letter. A popular technique, widely used among startups. Examples: Kard (card), Kustomer (customer), and Qlean (clean);
  7. Using the word “Robotics” in the title. This is a growing trend that helps to attract funding for businesses engaged in the development and/or production of robotics — for example, READY Robotics, Ascent Robotics, Fastbrick Robotics, Starsky Robotics, etc.

Giving Your Business a Name

Naming a B2B company or B2C business can be a real challenge. The process takes time, requires a clear understanding of the task, and consists of several stages:

  • First, determine how your brand is positioning itself and define your target audience and strategy. Find out what tasks the company faces, where your target audience is, what communication channels are best, and the names of competitor brands;
  • Using this data, compile the “semantic field” — words and phrases that best fit the brand and perfectly characterize it. If necessary, create the semantic field several times;
  • Now select the best names carefully. Be rational, listen to your gut, and use focus groups and surveys;
  • Introducing your new name is the final stage. Many business owners skip it, but it is important since you can successfully use it for publicity. For example, Porsche kept the name of their new car a secret for almost two years. Instead, they introduced a backup name, Sportility. Imagine how surprised journalists were when they heard “Cayenne” at the presentation. It’s been on the news a lot.

Now let’s look at other tactics for inventing a brand name.

Personal names

If you’re struggling with what type of brand name you should use for a B2B brand or B2C business, remember: Many famous brand names were born with no imagination since they were based on the founders’ names. The main thing here is that the titles don’t sound absurd or repeat existing brand names.

Some good examples are:

  • Mercedes: This was the name of the daughter of the consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire;
  • Victoria’s Secret: This legendary clothing brand name is dedicated to Victoria, the great queen of England;
  • Valentino: This famous fashion brand name was created in honor of designer Valentino Garavani;
  • Draper James: The name is made up of Reese Witherspoon’s grandparents’ names;
  • Eva: This one is the fashion brand name of Eva Mendes’ brainchild.

Second names or generic names

Naming a trademark after the creator is a trend that has given us world-famous brands we know well today. By calling the business by their names, the manufacturers vouched for their reputation and high quality and laid the foundation for the family enterprise. This is also a common practice used by law and consulting organizations.

Some good examples are:

  • Chanel;
  • Dior;
  • Maserati;
  • Ferrari;
  • Škoda;
  • Cadbury;
  • Nestle;
  • Procter & Gamble;
  • Johnson & Johnson;
  • Philips;
  • Siemens.

Literary and mythological names

You can use literary images when creating your brand name. The names of well-known characters, novels, and localities can help you create a brilliant brand name.

You can also find ideas in ancient Roman, Greek, Scandinavian, Slavic, and other myths. For example, need to come up with a brand name for a jewelry store? You can make a list of words relevant to your brand (beauty, wealth, etc.) and then choose a suitable mythical hero.

Some good examples are:

  • Nike: a famous clothing brand name was named after Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory;
  • Hermes: named after Hermes, the Greek god of trade;
  • Argos: stands for Argos Panoptes, an all-seeing giant with 100 eyes;
  • Pandora: the name of the first mortal woman created by the Greek god Hephaestus;
  • Marathon: named after the legend of the marathon in ancient Greek mythology;
  • Mazda: named in honor of the Japanese god Mazda, endowed with wisdom and harmony.

Acronyms

If you like the name but it is too long, then you can use an acronym! This will help you make the name memorable and keep the connection between the consumer and the brand. The companies that operate in international markets use this technique often.

Some good examples are:

  • IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd);
  • BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG);
  • M&M (Mars & Murrie);
  • Yahoo! (Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle);
  • CVS (Consumer Value Store);
  • IBM (International Business Machines).

Pseudonyms and nicknames

How to name a brand if your real name or surname doesn’t sound appropriate? Don’t worry; you can come up with a pseudonym or nickname to reflect the key advantage of your company.

Toponyms

You can use the name of a town or region (or even the names of fictional geographic areas) just like it is or in combination with other words. This method is often used when creating names for local brands, as well as in cases where business owners want to emphasize the manufacturer's location. This technique helps you make ordinary names unique and give your brand name a special charm.

Some good examples are:

  • Auchan: Hauts Champs is the name of the Roubaix block, where the first store was launched;
  • Nokia: the name of the city of Nokia, where Fredrik Idestam built his factory;
  • Cisco: a shortened version of San Francisco, where the company headquarters are located;
  • Bounty: chocolate bar named after the Bounty Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, near New Zealand;
  • Bethesda Softworks: the video game publisher named for the city in Maryland where its founders established the company.

Metaphors

By choosing the correct association, stereotype, or template, you can make up an effective brand name that people will easily remember and recognize. Moreover, such a name can tell your potential customers about your product’s benefits.

You can find inspiration in various historical or movie characters, plant names, animals, planets, etc. Some good examples are:

  • Red Bull;
  • Cougar;
  • Jaguar;
  • Virgin;
  • Innocent.

Alliteration

It is much easier to remember a name with rhyme, a certain sound or rhythm, or repetition. For example, isn’t RipNDip a fantastic brand name?

Some other good examples are:

  • Coca-Cola;
  • M&M's;
  • Kit Kat;
  • Chupa-Chups;
  • Shake’n’Bake;
  • Dunkin’ Donuts;
  • Tic-Tac.

Note that this method is unsuitable when creating names for banks, consulting firms, serious B2B companies and manufacturers, and other companies in similar industries. 

Transliteration

To create a unique brand name, you can use both foreign words in foreign writing and their transliteration. But first, think through your new brand name for yourself and ensure that it won’t have a negative connotation and conflict with the company’s field of activity when entering a foreign market.

Here are some good examples from China:

  • When the Coca-Cola company entered the Chinese market, the brand name was phonetically transliterated and meant “happiness in the mouth” or “tasty fun” in Chinese. This was a vivid example of transliteration taking into account cultural features;
  • If you are lucky, you will be able to find a brand name that sounds like the original one and is similar in meaning (as well as adequate meaning in the new market’s language). Nike found such an option for the Chinese market: this was 耐克 (nài kè), which means “endurance”;
  • The character that sounds like the word “bing” means “disease.” When Microsoft rolled out Bing in China, it chose another character (bì yìng), which means “must answer” — a much more appropriate word choice;
  • Volkswagen is one of the leading car brands in China, partly because the brand name in the Chinese language sounds like “Dàzhòng qìchē,” which means “the people’s car.” The name has the same meaning in German, but it is written and pronounced completely differently in Chinese.

Neologism

Changing the usual pronunciation of a word (word endings, for example) or mixing two words allows you to create a new one that can become a decent company name!

Some good examples are:

  • Intel: intelligence;
  • Microsoft: microcomputer software;
  • Adidas: the combination of “Adi,” the nickname of the founder Adolf Dassler, and the first part of his surname;
  • Sony: a combination of the Latin word “sonus” (sound) and the English phrase “sonny boys.”

The importance of phonetics in naming

The way a title sounds largely determines the image of your brand, its character, and its perception by potential customers, so the phonetic filter (testing if the word sounds good enough) is one of the most important tools for professional naming.

How do you like, for example, the name of the company Qualaroo, which develops modern sales tools? It sounds pleasantly funny, doesn’t it?

Think through your new brand name for yourself and pay attention to the following details:

  • Never underestimate the power of vowel sounds: “Uh” indicates confusion, “oh” suggests discovery or surprise, and “i” and “ee” are associated with small things;
  • Use consonants: “B” conveys a sense of power and strength; “h” relates to warmth, home, and “heart”; “g” emphasizes value and weight; the “l” sound or the “gl” combination is often associated with glamor and luxury in words like “glisten,” “glow,” and “gleam.”

Typical naming challenges

Despite the fees that branding agencies charge for naming, some business owners think that creating a B2C or B2B brand name is as easy as pie. But it is a misconception because you may (and will!) face many difficulties that no one warned you about.

So here is a checklist with the main don’ts to consider when choosing a brand name:

  1. Involving too many decision-makers. It is unlikely that many people can agree on one title, creating grounds for discontent and conflict. So we recommend you to involve only the key participants in the process — those who, as you think, are deeply and sincerely interested in the success of the company;
  2. Using incompatible combinations and clumsy neologisms. They aren’t always the best options (Perfumania or Qualiserve make us cringe). It’s like mixing ketchup with chocolate: They may be good on their own, but if you mix them, they’re not as appetizing;
  3. Thinking you can do the same tricks the great brands did. Descriptive names worked only for industry pioneers, such as General Motors or General Electric. However, when you have competitors, this isn’t an option. Imagine if Yahoo was called GeneralInternetDirectory.com! Of course, it’s more descriptive, but it would be difficult to memorize;
  4. Getting carried away in creating mystery around your brand name. An interesting story can be used in your branding. However, if the name is incomprehensible or difficult to spell or remember, then don’t be surprised if potential clients won’t pay attention to your offer;
  5. Meaningless or garbled names. Many strive to make a company’s name match their domain name and end up with strange, meaningless names or irrelevant, misspelled options. This way is not for everyone, so when creating a name for a serious, “classic” brand, refrain from replacing “q” with “k” and “ph” with “f”;
  6. Using complicated metaphors. A highly descriptive name is not the best option. However, one should avoid high-flown words such as “golden,” “perfect,” or “peak” since they sound overused. Instead, opt for a positive metaphor that resonates with your field of activity. Iron Mountain is an excellent example: It’s a company specializing in computer data storage. This name evokes associations with strength and reliability, and, at the same time, it sounds pretty unusual.

Registering your brand name

You should not worry about registering your brand as a trademark — it’s a relatively simple three-step process:

Registering your brand name

1. Search

Start by searching the name you want to register in the federal database to make sure that it is unique (i.e., another company does not already use it as a trademark). You can do that using the USPTO, also known as the trademark electronic search system (TESS). You will also have to pay attention to similar names in your industry because these may prevent you from registering your new name.

However, remember that similar names are often found in different business areas, which is absolutely OK. For example, there is Belkin, an American corporation that produces computer devices, and there is Belkins — an award-winning B2B lead generation and appointment-scheduling agency that operates worldwide.

2. Apply

After your successful search, you must apply to register your new brand name as a trademark.

3. File

You can choose between 2 application submission options — TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard. The first option is more straightforward and cheaper with a higher probability of success. But if you need to create an individual description of your company’s goods or services that aren’t listed in the Plus’ presets, then the Standard option may be more beneficial for you.

After that, you will receive a confirmation receipt from the USPTO along with a serial number to check the status of your application in the TSDR (Trademark Status & Document Retrieval) portal.

How Do You Come Up With a Brand Name and Hit the Jackpot?

No matter if it is a B2C or B2B brand name, the truth is that a good one won’t help a lousy firm to succeed, but a truly great company can make it even with the simplest and humblest one.

Market giants like Microsoft, Google, and Sony have pretty strange names. However, this did not prevent their owners from raising their companies to the top of the business world.

Company names can’t be separated from brands, and there is no such thing as the perfect name for a business. You will have to go a long way to help your brand gain experience and fame until the name becomes its business card and begins to speak for itself.

Dmitry Chervonyi

Chief Marketing Officer at Belkins
Since starting his career in sales & marketing 9 years ago, Dmitry never stopped searching for new opportunities that can turn the tables on sales development and the ways that shape B2B relationships. He is always eager to share his findings with the audience.