What to consider when choosing your company’s brand name
The name of your business instantly conveys who you are and what you are about. While it can be as descriptive and traditional as Air New Zealand, a brand name can also capture interest, such as the simple yet incredibly effective Apple.
There may be a captivating story behind your company, or perhaps it was named after a founder or its place of origin. Here we look at five common brand name types.
The most obvious choice for a brand name, descriptive names communicate exactly what your business does, for example, “Mike’s Plumbing”. They are traditional, functional and easy to remember, however the downside is that these names can seem clinical and boring, they may not resonate with your target audience and, finally, they leave no room to diversify. If Mike’s Plumbing wants to expand into electrical work, they would need a new brand name.
Some of the world’s most successful brands have evocative names – think Yahoo, Virgin and Amazon. These brand names evoke the positioning of their product or service, or an emotion in the customer, rather than describe what they sell. Apple was the chosen name of Steve Jobs because he thought it sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” It was also vague enough to allow for diversification.
While they are often unique and easy to trademark, evocative names can be difficult to get right.
Many synthetic brand names are based on Greek or Latin roots, such as Nivea or Nike, or some are completely original, such as Etsy or Xero. Invented and compound names are particularly popular in the tech industry – think Facebook and Snapchat.
Invented names can be successful as they are often easy to remember and can directly convey a brand’s personality. Remember – you can always incorporate the nuts-and-bolts descriptive information in your tagline.
Some brand names are inspired by a company’s heritage, be it a founder or place of origin. These brands often call upon their long history or interesting roots to inspire the trust of their audience.
A founder’s moniker can be a memorable name for a brand – for example, Whittaker’s or PERRIAM. However, geography-based names can be hard to trademark and differentiate from other brands. In this instance, being more specific can work well – for example, Lewis Road Creamery.
ASB, BMW, IBM, LG, DKNY … acronyms have historically been a common type of business name, however they are less prominent these days. That said, acronyms can still be effective when shortening a long descriptive or historic name, such as KPMG or M&Ms.