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Updated Apr 03, 2024

Make It Memorable: Tips for Creating an Effective Brand Name

Identify your brand to start shaping your marketing plan.

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Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Creating a brand name is one of the biggest challenges of starting a new business. If you choose the wrong name, customers will have no idea what your business stands for or what it does. But if you pick the right name, customers will immediately identify with your value proposition.

We’ll explore the basics of creating a unique, representative brand name that can help convey your business’s identity to customers and partners. 

How to create a brand name

Creating an effective company name can take a lot of effort. However, with the right strategies in place, you can select the perfect name to identify your brand. 

Let’s examine some essential factors to consider when you’re creating a brand name.

1. Check your brand name’s availability.

Before you decide on a name, you must check if it’s available. Ignoring this crucial step can be an expensive and embarrassing mistake.

Follow these steps to check your brand name’s availability: 

  1. Do a trademark search. Run the name through the S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark database. This free tool will tell you if there are any registered trademarks or prior pending applications for the marks you want to use.
  2. Run keyword searches. The next step is to run some targeted keyword Google searches. Put your brand name in quotation marks and conduct a handful of queries. Look for any results that may require further investigation.
  3. Do a corporate name search. If it’s a company name, you should also check the Department of Corporations registry in the state where you plan to start your business. You can find the right tool online by searching for “corporate name search [your state].”
  4. Register your brand name. To protect your business’s name, register your trademark with the government. Although you can do this online, you may want to consult a trademark attorney first, as the rules can be complicated. Consider intellectual property insurance to pay the legal costs of trademark infringement.
Did You Know?Did you know
Trademark registration prolongs a company's life span by an average of 6.6 years, or more if the trademark is renewed, according to Heer Law. It also raises profitability by 1.7 percent and a firm's value by 11.9 percent.

2. Don’t get cute with your brand name.

Over the past few years, the trend in startup branding has been to develop a clever name that sounds like a real word but is actually contrived by combining other words. This works in specific situations — think Spotify or Snapchat — but it’s not necessarily the best strategy for all companies. 

Getting too cute can often hurt your business’s ability to grow. For the best results, choose a more straightforward name. Here are some tips:

  • Make your brand name easy to spell. Spelling is important. Even if you’ve made up the word, it must be easy to spell. For example, if you heard the name Spotify without seeing it written out, you could probably spell it easily. However, if you were asked to spell the name Saucony (pronounced SOCK’-a-nee) without ever seeing it, you might hesitate. Unclear spelling can pose a problem when customers search for products online or share the brand name with friends.
  • Ensure your brand name is easy to pronounce. Your brand name should be easy to pronounce. Having a brand name that’s frequently mispronounced isn’t ideal. Take Guerlain, for example: Most people pronounce the brand name “Grrr-lane,” when it’s actually “Gher-lahn.” 

If you can develop a brand name that’s easy to spell and pronounce, you’ll be well ahead of many of today’s startups and small businesses.

3. Aim for simplicity.

One-word brand names are always ideal. They’re memorable, strong and relatable. If you think about some of the most successful and recognizable businesses in the world — Target, Amazon, Apple — they all have one-word names.

Sometimes, you have to invent a word — Twitter, Google, Starbucks — but the effect is the same. A two-word name is acceptable when one word is not an option, but avoid going with three or more words if possible. Long names complicate everything from choosing a domain name to creating product packaging.

Simple names are also more likely to inspire customer trust. In an oft-cited study of 700 stocks that traded between 1990 and 2004, researchers found that companies with simple names earned 11 percent more than those with difficult-to-pronounce names.

This results from several factors:

  • Simple names appear more truthful than complex names. 
  • Simple names are easier to remember and require less effort to process than complex names. 
  • Simple names convey integrity and competence to consumers.

4. Think about the logo.

Business owners usually think about their logo after selecting a brand name, but it’s good to keep designs in mind when brainstorming name ideas. Your brand name and logo will become synonymous, so they can’t be considered independent components.

Will you use a specific script or font to create a textual logo, like Coca-Cola or Facebook, or will you go with an abstract logo, like Apple or Target? 

These decisions may not affect the logo directly, but they can help you choose between two or more options.

TipBottom line
Although there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to logo creation, good logos are part of your brand image and should be simple, memorable, versatile, authentic and timeless.

5. Consider future growth.

While you may specialize in a particular product now, you don’t want to limit your company to selling only that product forever. The wrong brand name can seriously hamper your ability to scale in the years to come.

For example, let’s say your startup sells cat food. Using the brand name “Cat Food Inc.” doesn’t give you much room to expand into, for example, dog food. However, if you went with the brand name “Healthy Pets Inc.,” you’d have room to expand food and product lines. 

This sort of thing happens all the time. For example, Boston Market used to be called Boston Chicken. Then, it wanted to add other types of foods to the menu and had to embark on a rebranding exercise that cost the company more than $14 million. It’s best to get it right from the beginning.

6. Secure social media accounts with your brand name.

Just as it’s crucial to reserve a domain name with your brand name, you should scoop up other digital versions of your brand name. For example, you’ll want to build a social media presence for your brand name, so lock down your Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram accounts. 

If your brand name isn’t available on platforms you want to use for social media marketing, you may even rethink the name.

TipBottom line
Add monitoring tools to your social media marketing strategy to track brand name mentions. You'll be able to respond to customers who mention your brand and see how the public perceives your offerings.

7. Consider your company values. 

When seeing your brand name, potential customers should get a sense of what your company is about. For example, IMPACT is the name of an award-winning marketing agency. Its goal is to create the maximum impact for its clients; the company reinforces this message by writing the name in all capital letters. Another example is Whole Foods, which implies natural, unprocessed food choices.

8. Prioritize uniqueness.

The strongest brand names are distinctive. When someone hears your brand name, they should associate it only with your company’s products or services. 

Steer away from descriptive words related to your product, such as “Yummy Yogurt” or “Durable Tires.” However, you can combine words to create a descriptive brand name, such as “Yumgurt” or “DuraTire.” 

Gather your team to brainstorm characteristics, values and emotions related to your brand offering. Then, try these strategies: 

  • Word combinations: Examples of word-combination brand names include PayPal and Snapchat.
  • Spelling changes: Examples of spelling changes in brand names include Chick-fil-A and Fiverr.
  • Alliteration: Examples of brand names that use alliteration include Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme.
  • Rhymes: Examples of brand names that use rhyming include GrubHub and Reese’s Pieces.
  • Metaphors: Examples of brand names that use a metaphor include Nike and Quartz.
  • A related word: Use a single word that is related but not directly descriptive, like Google or Amazon.
  • An unrelated word: Use a single word that’s not related at all, like Square or Apple.
  • Word play: Use a homophone or pun, such as “Sugar Bare Waxing Studio” or “Wild Hare Salon.”
  • Founder’s name: Use the founder’s name, like Kellogg’s or Hilton. Naming your brand after yourself isn’t usually recommended because establishing a memorable brand can cost the business much more. However, it’s still possible if you want to devote the time and money to build your brand under that name.
FYIDid you know
Generative AI platforms can be valuable tools for coming up with potential brand names. Make sure to double-check that the names they create are actually available.

9. Ensure that your brand name is memorable. 

Your brand name must be memorable so consumers and potential customers can easily seek you out and recommend you to others. If you sell in a retail environment, a memorable name allows customers to find you amid a sea of competing products. 

Here are some factors that go into a memorable brand name: 

  • Meaning: Your brand name should conjure some kind of meaning in customers’ minds, whether it’s product-related or a characteristic your brand embodies.
  • Emotion: Your brand name should have an emotional component. Many brands evoke a feeling. Some, like Disney, create this emotion through associations over time, but others have it baked into the brand name. For example, QuickBooks conveys ease of use. HomeGoods combines two words, each with a positive connotation. Sandals Resorts invokes a casual, laid-back atmosphere.
  • Uniqueness: The name you choose should be very different from those of competing products or companies. If it’s similar to an existing brand name, that brand should be in a totally different industry or make a product with a different target market to avoid confusion.

What is a brand name?

A brand is an intangible marketing concept that’s used to identify a product, service, group of products or services, or the company as a whole. A brand name is what you choose to call the brand; it consists of both the spelling and the pronunciation. 

The brand name is an integral part of a business’s brand identity and overall marketing plan. A brand identity may include a logo (which might incorporate the brand name or be a stand-alone graphic), a slogan or tagline, a color scheme or an aesthetic. 

Brand names often give prospective customers an idea of what the company or product does or a characteristic of the company or product. Here are some famous examples:

  • Amazon: Amazon is another word for a mythical race of tall warrior women, so it hints at the concept of “big.” Because it contains the letters “a” and “z,” it also suggests having everything possible. This idea is shown in the company’s logo, which connects the “a” and “z” with an arrow smile.
  • Nike: In ancient Greek mythology, Nike was the winged goddess of victory, suggesting competitiveness, victory and speed. The brand’s famous swoosh logo also reinforces the concepts of speed, movement and a wing.

Some companies have multiple product groups that are represented by brands under their umbrella and are all marketed separately with different value propositions. For example, this is the case with General Motors, which includes the brands Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC.

Launch your brand today

Branding is a critical component of launching a business. With more businesses being created every day, a distinct, memorable brand name can set your company apart from the competition. As you move through the brand-naming process, keep an open mind and don’t rush your decision. Rebranding is an expensive proposition, so get it right the first time. 

Skye Schooley and Larry Alton contributed to this article. 

author image
Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Jennifer Dublino is an experienced entrepreneur and astute marketing strategist. With over three decades of industry experience, she has been a guiding force for many businesses, offering invaluable expertise in market research, strategic planning, budget allocation, lead generation and beyond. Earlier in her career, Dublino established, nurtured and successfully sold her own marketing firm. Dublino, who has a bachelor's degree in business administration and an MBA in marketing and finance, also served as the chief operating officer of the Scent Marketing Institute, showcasing her ability to navigate diverse sectors within the marketing landscape. Over the years, Dublino has amassed a comprehensive understanding of business operations across a wide array of areas, ranging from credit card processing to compensation management. Her insights and expertise have earned her recognition, with her contributions quoted in reputable publications such as Reuters, Adweek, AdAge and others.
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