How to name a brand in 6 steps (and make it memorable)

Ever heard of anthimeria? It’s when you start using a word in a new grammatical form, like a verb.

We do it all the time. Just think of the success of iconic brands like Uber, Google, or Hoover. Their names have become synonymous with the products they offer and have transcended the boundaries of language and culture.

So if you ask, what’s in a name? A lot, actually.

Coming up with a memorable brand name for a business can be a lot harder than you might think. Figuring out a new brand or sub-brand name for a fresh start, a pivot or a merge can equally seem like a daunting task.

You could just ask AI to churn out some random word ideas and pick the one that sounds good but brand naming should be taken seriously. There’s much more to keep in mind than just how it sounds. It’ll say so much about your brand personality, and it will be used everywhere.

Okay, let’s take some of the pressure off. You now probably understand that a brand naming process is kind of a big deal in brand building.

Here we’re going to dissect it into smaller, achievable steps, so you too are able to choose a great brand name that will stand the test of time.

Step 1: Get to know your customers

Step 2: Identifying your brand

Step 3: Brainstorm ideas

Step 4: Evaluate your options

Step 5: Launch your brand

Step 6: Monitor your brand metrics

What makes a brand name good?

Let’s look at your brand name as one of the building blocks of a strong brand identity. When chosen right, it captures the essence of your brand in just a word or two and leaves a lasting imprint in the minds of your consumers.

Here’s what to keep in mind when picking a new brand name. Important to note: you don’t have to check all these boxes, just pick a starting point.

  • It fits what you do: ”but Apple doesn’t, and Yahoo! sounds like a party planner, not a search engine”. Alright, that might be true, but if you’re looking for a place to start, start by what your company does, and not what fruits you like.
  • It suits your business by capturing the core of your brand: Uber is all about going above and beyond. It’ll bring you anywhere, and it’ll bring you anything. So instead of looking at your business in the most practical sense, look at what value you add or what your core principles are.
  • It’s distinctive and intriguing: try to avoid names that can cause confusion or mixups. Be unique, and make people interested in what you offer. After all, Amazon won’t take you to the rainforest, but it sounds powerful and intriguing nonetheless.
  • It’s future-proof and timeless: think about how a name will evolve in the future. Is the word based on a current trend that may not resonate in 6 months’ time? How have similar names worked out and changed in the past? If you expand your target market and go overseas, will it work there too? Does the name work on different platforms and in different advertising mediums?
  • It’s simple: the easier it is to pronounce, spell and remember, the better. Simplicity adds to its memorability. It’s better to have an easy name that doesn’t fully explain what your business does in one word, but is easy to remember, than one that’s too long to memorize but covers it all.
  • It’s culturally appropriate: consider how your brand name will resonate with your target demographic (internationally) and if it could potentially be misinterpreted or offensive in different languages or cultures.
  • It’s available: this one seems obvious, but we can’t stress it enough. Is the domain name available? What about social media handles? Even the ones you don’t plan on using just yet? You don’t want to fall in love with a name that’s already taken.
  • It’s legally available: do take legal considerations into account. Make sure your dream name isn’t trademarked by another company. Legal issues are the last thing you want when launching (or relaunching) a brand.

How to name a brand—and make it unique!

So, how do you come up with a great brand name? The steps below will guide the way.

Step 1: Get to know your customers

Start by understanding your audience and market. Use a tool like Attest to survey potential consumers and discover what resonates with them. Identify their needs, preferences, and the language they use. It will give you a solid foundation on which to build your brand name.

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Step 2: Identifying your brand

Now you know your target audience, it’s time to get to know yourself. What does our brand stand for? What is its history, and what does the future look like? Give your brand a personality, an identity. This will make it easier to identify names that fit.

Step 3: Brainstorm ideas

With your market research in hand, it’s time to get to the drawing board. Host a brainstorming session or focus groups, and let the ideas flow. Don’t censor yourself at this stage. Below are some routes to take to get the creative juices flowing:

  1. Use metaphors and symbols: Don’t take what you do too literally. Metaphors and symbols can evoke strong emotions and associations. It can also make your brand easier to remember, and even help with a visual identity.
  2. The ‘Founder’s Name’ route: Using the founder’s name can give your brand a personal touch. However, it might limit you if the founder plans to sell the company in the future.
  3. Engage your community: Consider holding a brand naming contest to involve your potential customers. This not only generates a variety of ideas but also creates early brand engagement and loyalty. This shouldn’t be unpaid labour for creatives: make sure that whoever ‘wins’ gets rewarded properly.
  4. Use wordplay and linguistic tricks: Alliteration, rhymes, puns, and combining two words into one, can make your brand name catchy and memorable. Make sure it aligns with your brand personality and doesn’t feel forced.
  5. Explore other languages and cultures: Looking beyond your native language or English can really expand your horizon. Just make sure the name is easy to pronounce and doesn’t have any negative connotations in different cultures.

Step 4: Evaluate your options

Now that you have a list of potential names, it’s time to evaluate them. Use the factors we outlined earlier: Does it suit your brand? Is it distinctive and intriguing? Is it future-proof? Is it simple, culturally relevant, and legally available?This is where you go back to your target customer to find out which of your options will make a great brand name.

With creative testing, you can find out what your audience really thinks. Run your top choices by your target audience. Use an online tool like Attest to survey your demographic.

Step 5: Launch your brand

Now that you’ve got a great name, it’s time to introduce your brand to the world. Remember, your brand name is just the first step. It needs to be supported by a strong brand strategy and consistent messaging, but you don’t have to reveal it all at once. Revealing your brand name first, as a sneak peek, can create a buzz and help to build brand awareness.

Step 6: Monitor your brand metrics

Once your brand is out of your head and into the real world, it’s crucial to keep an eye on key brand metrics. Keep the conversation with your customers open and ask them the right questions. Are people remembering your brand name? Is it sparking the right emotions? Is it strengthening brand recall and recognition? Brand tracking with Attest ensures your brand name continues to resonate with your audience.

Examples of great brand names

We’ve been over some brand names everyone knows and can think of, but there are many more great examples out there. Here’s some more inspiration.

  1. Kodak: The name was invented with two ‘K’s because founder George Eastman thought the letter was strong and incisive. Plus, it was easy to pronounce in many languages.
  2. Reebok: Named after an African antelope (Rhebok), the name implies speed and agility, perfect for a sports footwear and apparel company.
  3. Lego: A mash-up of the Danish words ‘leg’ and ‘godt’, which means ‘play well’. Incredibly fitting for a toy company all about building and creativity.
  4. Asos: This fashion retailer’s name is an acronym for ‘As Seen On Screen’, cleverly connecting their products with fashion trends spotted in the media.
  5. Vodafone: A combination of ‘voice’, ‘data’, and ‘phone’, this brand name clearly conveys the company’s services.
  6. Patagonia: Named after the rugged, untamed region in South America, it evokes a sense of adventure and aligns perfectly with this outdoor clothing brand.
  7. Haagen-Dazs: This name actually means nothing. The founders invented a Danish-sounding name to evoke an aura of old-world tradition and craftsmanship. Smart, right?

How to put your brand on top of the competition

Your brand isn’t just a name or a logo. It’s an evolving entity that’s built on continuous learning, understanding, and adapting to your audience’s needs and desires to make sure you give them what they really need.

This is where a tool like Attest comes in handy.

Attest can help you track your brand’s performance, gather valuable consumer data, and make informed decisions that put your brand on top of the industry and competition.

Market research gives you insights into your target audience’s needs, preferences and perceptions, which are crucial for shaping not just your brand name, but every aspect of your brand.

Launch a brand you know will be a hit

Find out BEFORE you launch whether or not consumers will love your brand name—using consumer insights from Attest.

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1. How can I choose a good brand name?

Choosing a good brand name involves understanding your brand’s essence, its personality and its target audience. Here are a few steps to guide you through naming process:

1. Define your brand: Understand your brand’s mission, vision and values. Know your brand’s personality—is it fun and playful, serious and professional, or something else?
2. Know your audience: Understand who your target audience is and what they value. Your brand name should resonate with them.
3. Brainstorm: Generate a list of potential names. Be creative and consider different types of brand names—real words, made-up words, acronyms, etc.
4. Shortlist: Narrow down your list based on the relevance, ease of pronunciation, and memorability of the names. Do they capture your brand’s essence? Does it sound too much like other brands in your industry? Does it sound good in other languages? Get enough objective criteria to make a safe, but successful choice.
5. Test: Get feedback on the shortlisted names from your target audience. Do they understand and connect with the names in the way you want them to?

2. How does market research help you name a brand?

Market research plays a crucial role in naming a brand. It helps you:

– Understand your audience: By knowing your target market’s demographics, preferences and needs, you can create a brand name that resonates with them.
– Analyze competitors: You can see what naming conventions your competitors use and find ways to differentiate your brand.
– Test potential names: Market research lets you test potential brand names with your target audience. This feedback can help you refine and choose the most effective name.

Mitigate risk: By researching cultural implications and existing trademarks, you can avoid potential legal issues or negative associations with your brand name.

3. Why is a good brand name important?

A good brand name is vital because it:

– Creates a first impression: Your brand name is typically the first thing people encounter about your brand. It can shape their initial perception of your brand.
– Helps stand out: A unique and memorable brand name can help your brand stand out in a crowded market.
– Facilitates brand recall: A catchy and easy-to-pronounce brand name makes it easier for customers to remember your brand.
– Conveys brand personality: A well-chosen brand name can reflect your brand’s personality, values, and mission, helping to attract a like-minded audience.

4. What are the different types of brand names?

There are several types of brand names, each with its strengths. Here are a few types:

– Descriptive names: they directly describe what the company does. Examples include General Motors and Toys “R” Us.
– Evocative names: these names evoke a relevant emotion or idea. Brands like Amazon and Nike fall into this category.
– Invented names: names that are made-up words created to be unique. Examples are Kodak and Xerox.
– Lexical names: use wordplay, like puns, alliteration, or rhymes. Dunkin’ Donuts is an example.
– Acronymic names: these are names based on initials or acronyms, like IBM and KFC.
– Geographic names: named after a location relevant to the brand, like Fuji Film or Cisco (short for San Francisco).
– Founder’s names: derived from the brand’s founders, like Ford and Disney.

Elliot Barnard

Customer Research Lead 

Elliot joined Attest in 2019 and has dedicated his career to working with brands carrying out market research. At Attest Elliot takes a leading role in the Customer Research Team, to support customers as they uncover insights and new areas for growth.

See all articles by Elliot