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8 min read How to create a brand name

How to Create a Brand Name that Resonates with Consumers

Key Takeaways

  • When creating a brand name, you must align it with your company’s values and target market.
  • Don’t forget to check that your chosen name isn’t already trademarked and scout out suitable website domains.
  • It’s typical to test your brand name before making it official to ensure consumers’ perceptions are in line with your expectations and goals.

So, you’re ready to offi­cialise your busi­ness by giv­ing it a name. You’ve come to the right place.

Undoubt­ed­ly, choos­ing a brand name can be a high­ly stress­ful affair. Not only does it need to rep­re­sent and con­vey your brand appro­pri­ate­ly to con­sumers, but it also needs to stand the test of time and be memorable.

If you’re feel­ing stressed about this and won­der­ing how to come up with a brand name, you can rest assured that it will work out. All you need to do is take the jour­ney step by step, which we have out­lined below:

  1. Under­stand what makes an effec­tive brand name
  2. Choose the type of brand name you want to go for
  3. Plan, brain­storm, and nar­row down your list of poten­tial names
  4. Get help from an online tool if you’re strug­gling to gen­er­ate ideas
  5. Com­plete tests and checks to feel con­fi­dent in the brand name you choose

With­out fur­ther ado, let’s get into it so you can under­stand the steps you need to take to cre­ate a high­ly effec­tive and res­o­nant brand name:

5 traits of effective brand names

From the pool of count­less brands in exis­tence, we can iden­ti­fy which names have been suc­cess­ful enough to make a last­ing impact on con­sumers since they all share some cru­cial traits.

If you want your brand name to be suc­cess­ful, too, these char­ac­ter­is­tics will be essen­tial to know.

We’ve whit­tled them down to the fol­low­ing five traits:

  1. Mem­o­rable: the name is eas­i­ly remem­bered, catchy, and per­haps concise
  2. Unique: the name is dis­tinc­tive and not con­fused with any oth­ers that exist
  3. Future proof: the name will stand the test of time, espe­cial­ly when the busi­ness scales
  4. Acces­si­ble: the name is easy to pro­nounce, even internationally
  5. Visu­al: the name can be turned into a logo eas­i­ly and still remain distinctive

Testing your brand names for these traits

Each one of these traits can be test­ed or account­ed for. When it comes to test­ing your brand name with a group of par­tic­i­pants, you can ask ques­tions that relate to the name’s mem­o­ra­bil­i­ty, acces­si­bil­i­ty, and unique­ness. If the results show that your test­ed name fails on any of these qual­i­ties, you can go back to the draw­ing board and make the required changes.

To test whether your brand name is future-proof, you can the­o­rise about how the name would be affect­ed by things such as relo­ca­tion and a broad­ened prod­uct range.

Before decid­ing on a brand name, ask a design­er to pro­duce a range of draft­ed logos. That way, you can be sure about how your brand name will be repro­duced across mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als and decide whether you’re hap­py with its visu­al reincarnation.

8 categories of brand names

If you’re strug­gling to come up with ideas, it might help to know the dif­fer­ent types of names you could go for. For instance, most brand names fit into one of the fol­low­ing eight categories:

  1. A per­son­’s name
  2. Descrip­tive
  3. Myth­i­cal
  4. Made up completely
  5. Metaphor
  6. Acronym
  7. Plays on sound or spelling
  8. Geo­graph­i­cal

There are pros and cons to each of these types, explained below. The most impor­tant thing is choos­ing a name that’s best for your business.

A person’s name (e.g., McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s)

Pro: If you have a unique name and decide to use it for your brand, gain­ing a top space in the SERPs could be a breeze because there won’t be much com­pe­ti­tion. Plus, if you’ve already built a fol­low­ing with your face and name, it’ll be eas­i­er for fans and fol­low­ers to find your com­pa­ny, as they’ll know what to search for.

Con: Despite the SEO advan­tage described above, poten­tial cus­tomers might not know your name if you’re not famous. So, lots of mar­ket­ing efforts will be required to get your name out there and build a brand sto­ry around it.

Descriptive (e.g., Burger King or We Buy Any Car)

Pro: Descrip­tive names eas­i­ly con­vey the func­tion of a busi­ness or its prod­ucts and can be eas­i­ly remem­bered if mar­ket­ed appropriately.

Con: Though high­ly func­tion­al, descrip­tive names don’t always pack a punch, so rely on oth­er mar­ket­ing efforts to express brand per­son­al­i­ty. In addi­tion, descrip­tive names can be dif­fi­cult to trade­mark as they’re often con­sti­tut­ed of very com­mon­ly used words.

Mythical (e.g., Hermes and Nike)

Pro: Names relat­ing to myths and leg­ends can car­ry a high impact, espe­cial­ly if their ori­gin sto­ries are well known by consumers.

Con: If the sto­ry behind the name is too obscure, con­sumers will have dif­fi­cul­ty under­stand­ing its intend­ed meaning.

Made up completely (e.g., Häagen-Dazs)

Pro: Names that are com­plete­ly made up will be easy to trade­mark and are entire­ly unique.

Con: Since made-up names have no def­i­n­i­tion when they’re first cre­at­ed, a lot of mar­ket­ing is need­ed to help them become well-known by the gen­er­al public.

Metaphor (e.g., Jaguar and Gorilla Glue)

Pro: If con­sumers under­stand the metaphor, a great impact can be achieved.

Con: If con­sumers don’t under­stand your metaphor, it won’t car­ry the weight you hoped it would. Plus, you run the risk of appear­ing boast­ful if your prod­ucts or ser­vices don’t live up to expec­ta­tions. E.g., if Goril­la Glue was­n’t very strong.

Acronym (e.g., ASOS and NASA)

Pro: Acronyms are good if the com­pa­ny name becomes too long or com­pli­cat­ed for con­sumers to remember.

Con: These names lack mean­ing and emotion.

Plays on sound or spelling (e.g., FedEx, Instagram, and Dunkin’ Donuts)

Pro: Lex­i­cal­ly play­ful names offer great mem­o­ra­bil­i­ty and can help con­sumers under­stand com­pa­nies and their prod­ucts. They can also be high­ly unique and, there­fore, less like­ly to run into trade­mark issues.

Con: Con­sumers aren’t always impressed by word­play as it’s so com­mon­place – so it has to be extra clever to be pulled off well. Plus, play­ful brand names aren’t real­ly suit­able for seri­ous industries.

Geographical (e.g., American Express, KFC, and La Roche-Posay)

Pro: Geo­graph­i­cal names offer a sense of her­itage which can help con­sumers feel an affin­i­ty with your brand. In addi­tion, com­pa­nies can pig­gy­back off the pres­tige of spe­cif­ic locations.

For instance, skin­care sold by La Roche-Posay has a ‘nat­ur­al’ and ‘heal­ing’ rep­u­ta­tion since the brand name refers to the rur­al town in cen­tral France, famous for its nat­ur­al springs.

Con: The brand name might no longer be appro­pri­ate if the com­pa­ny grows and begins serv­ing oth­er regions.

What category of brand name should you go for?

Though each type has pros and cons, each has been used by brands that have become high­ly suc­cess­ful. Evi­dent­ly, the effi­ca­cy of your brand name depends on sev­er­al oth­er fac­tors, such as your mar­ket­ing efforts.

It can be a great exer­cise to come up with eight poten­tial brand names – one from each cat­e­go­ry – and see which type res­onates the most. It’s an effec­tive way to stim­u­late your brain­storm­ing process­es and get you one step clos­er to your per­fect brand name.

How to build a brand name in 7 steps

Now that you’ve got an idea of what makes an effec­tive brand name, it’s time to take action. If you’re won­der­ing how to cre­ate a brand name, look no fur­ther than these sev­en steps:

1. Put your target audience front and centre

What kind of lan­guage is impor­tant to your tar­get mar­ket? How do they speak?

Nar­row­ing down your tar­get cus­tomer, per­haps with a buy­er’s per­sona, can help to under­stand the lan­guage that res­onates with them. For instance, is it for­mal or infor­mal? Is it play­ful or seri­ous? Is it pres­ti­gious or eas­i­ly accessed?

Answer­ing these ques­tions and under­stand­ing your tar­get cus­tomer is essen­tial if your brand name is going to be effective.

2. Consider your brand’s personality, purpose, and mission

Ask your­self the same ques­tions but make them about your com­pa­ny. Is your brand’s per­son­al­i­ty seri­ous or play­ful? For­mal or infor­mal? Is it for every­one or a small, select­ed group? Is it extrav­a­gant, reli­able, quirky, bold, cor­po­rate, goofy, mod­ern, exclu­sive, or zen?

This process is essen­tial if you’re to dis­cov­er a res­o­nant and effec­tive brand name. The pur­pose of it is, over­all, ask­ing: what do you want poten­tial cus­tomers to know about your brand?

3. What are your competitors doing?

You don’t want to be caught out with a brand name too sim­i­lar to one of your com­peti­tors. Look­ing at rival brands can help you with your own brand­ing in two ways:

1) you can lev­el up and do things none of your com­peti­tors are doing.

2) you can under­stand what con­sumers are respond­ing well to and use this to inform your strategy.

4. Brainstorm your ideas

It’s time to brain­storm. The above steps should have begun this process already. But, if you’re hav­ing trou­ble gen­er­at­ing ideas, you might find an online tool to be help­ful. Scroll down to read about three of our favourite name-gen­er­at­ing tools.

As men­tioned above, it’s a good idea to use the list of brand name cat­e­gories to gen­er­ate at least eight dif­fer­ent names.

5. Narrow down your ideas

Once you’ve got an exten­sive list with a few names you’re excit­ed about, it’s time to nar­row them down.

Run through the list of traits of effec­tive brand names and eval­u­ate each of your ideas against the five char­ac­ter­is­tics. Remove any that aren’t unique, acces­si­ble, mem­o­rable etc.

6. Check for trademarks

It’s cru­cial that you check your cho­sen brand name has­n’t already been trade­marked. It’ll be ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing to go through a huge­ly cre­ative process, to dis­cov­er at the end that the name is no longer viable. With­out a doubt, you must com­plete a trade­mark check before you con­duct tests on your list of names.

You might also want to check for a suit­able web­site domain. Although it’s not essen­tial that your com­pa­ny web­site URL match­es your busi­ness trad­ing name, you might pre­fer it to, so it’s worth check­ing before going any further.

7. Test your names

The final part of choos­ing a brand name is test­ing it. You’ll need to make sure that con­sumers’ per­cep­tions of your brand name are as expect­ed and in line with your goals. Read on to learn more about con­duct­ing tests on brand names.

Testing your brand name

If you have mul­ti­ple names and you can’t nar­row them down, test­ing is a great way to choose one of them based on sol­id data. Even if you just have one brand name you like, test­ing is the final check­box to tick in order to feel con­fi­dent in your choice.

A pool of about 100 par­tic­i­pants is the min­i­mum rec­om­mend­ed size to reap sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant results, and it’s ide­al to test for the fol­low­ing things:

  • Unique­ness
  • Lik­a­bil­i­ty
  • Mem­o­ra­bil­i­ty
  • Pro­nun­ci­a­tion (or accessibility)
  • Suit­abil­i­ty
  • Con­text

First, iden­ti­fy the ques­tions you’ll want to ask your test participants:

  • What does this name make you feel?
  • How unique is this name?
  • Do you like this brand?
  • Do you trust this brand?
  • How appro­pri­ate is the name of the company?
  • How well does the brand name match the prod­uct range?
  • How would you pro­nounce this name?
  • How mod­ern is the brand name?
  • How sim­i­lar is this brand name to oth­ers in the same industry?

Since these ques­tions are open-end­ed, it may take longer to eval­u­ate the results of your tests. To make the ‘results’ phase eas­i­er, you could turn the ques­tions above into mul­ti­ple-choice, i.e., ask par­tic­i­pants to mark their agree­ment to each state­ment out of 10.

If you’re test­ing mul­ti­ple brand names against each oth­er, make sure you ask the same ques­tions about each of them.

8 things to avoid when creating a brand name

When think­ing about how to cre­ate a name for a busi­ness, there are don’ts as well as dos. To ensure you don’t make any rook­ie errors, use the fol­low­ing checklist:

  1. Avoid names that could be dif­fi­cult to spell or pronounce
  2. Don’t choose a brand name that has already been trade­marked by anoth­er company
  3. Avoid names that are over­ly long
  4. Avoid break­ing your local laws and reg­u­la­tions regard­ing com­pa­ny names
  5. Be care­ful about using your own name
  6. Don’t for­get to secure the domain of your intend­ed brand name
  7. Avoid names that will pre­vent your com­pa­ny from scaling
  8. Don’t go too random

3 tools that can help make a brand name

If you need help in your brain­storm­ing phase, there’s no harm in check­ing out an online name gen­er­a­tor. The fol­low­ing three tools have been test­ed by us, are all free, and each has great merits:


Though this site looks a lit­tle basic, it has loads of per­son­al­i­sa­tion options. You can enter how many syl­la­bles you want your brand name to have, choose to add Greek and Latin pre­fix­es and suf­fix­es, as well as adding rhymes.


Though free, NameS­nack receives a com­mis­sion when you reg­is­ter your domain through one of its part­ners. It uses machine learn­ing and offers up avail­able web­site domains. We found this tool very user-friend­ly; how­ev­er, it does­n’t check trade­mark databases.


Namelix is anoth­er tool that uses AI to gen­er­ate busi­ness names. Choose from cre­ative fil­ters such as alter­na­tive spellings, com­pound words, non-Eng­lish words, and short phras­es, as well as choos­ing between short and long names and var­ied creativity/randomness levels.

Final thoughts

Choos­ing a brand name is an excit­ing time, but you might be ner­vous about pick­ing the right one. If you need some assis­tance with pick­ing a brand name, reach out to pur­ple­plan­et. Our large and expe­ri­enced team is qual­i­fied to help with a range of brand­ing services.

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