Skip to main content

How to choose a brand name

sports-car-on-the-ceilingIf you are a startup, or established organisation looking to launch a new enterprise, the big question is: “What should we call our new business?”

Is this driving you around the bend?

You can either use a logical approach and beat the problem to death using research, analysis and comparison. Or you can let your creative mind loose on the challenge.

Here are some different approaches to choosing a brand name:

* The founders’ name. For example,  Abercrombie & Fitch (David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch); Adidas (founded by Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler); Bacardi (Don Facundo Bacardí Massó ); Dell Technologies (Michael Dell;) Disney (Walt Disney); Ford (Henry Ford); and John Lewis (department store).

* Invent a new word which sounds interesting. For example, Google, Kleenex, Oreo. A unique word is easier to trademark.

* Use Greek and / or Latin words i.e. Agilent Technologies.

* The ‘What it says on the tin‘ approach. British Gas; BP (British Petroleum); General Motors.

* Use initials (acronym), i.e. IBM (International Business Machines), ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries); FSB (The Federation of Small Businesses).

* Use a town, county or place name. However, bear in mind that countries and locations can get somewhat sniffy about this, even years afterwards. An example being the country Iceland and the company Iceland Frozen Foods.

* Use a fruit, animal, colour or astronomical name – the challenge of course being that most of them have already been taken. An example being one of my favourite hotels: The Pig.

* Combine two elements taken from the above into something original. This is where the magic comes in.

Here are some brand name considerations:

Brand name originality

Does the brand name stand out from the crowd? Are people likely to talk about it?

Brand name sound

How does the name sound? Ask family, friends and colleagues to pronounce your shortlist of brand names. Ask for their feedback.

Is the brand name easy to spell?

Some brand names are notoriously difficult to spell. This is a particular challenge when a customer is searching for their website.

Is the brand name memorable?

Some names are really catchy and memorable, aren’t they? Sadly, others are dull and boring. Always get some feedback – as other people will react differently to your brand name ideas.

Will the brand name work on the world stage?

There are many famous stories of brand names which, unfortunately, translate into something rude or offensive in another language. It doesn’t matter if you think that you will never trade abroad. In five years’ time, you may wish to. When you come to sell your business, the buyer may have global ambitions: why create a problem in this area? Don’t take a risk – always check.

Check domain names against your brand name ideas

The next step is to check website domain names. Ideally, you will want to be able to buy the best know TLDs (Top Level Domain, i.e. the last section of an internet domain name ) including .com and .biz in order to protect your brand. Many more TLDs are now available than used to be the case, including .global and .pro …which means that you have more choice. Therefore, if .com is taken by a non competitor in a different  country, you could consider using a different TLD.

Can you trademark your brand name?

If you are creative and have invented and entirely new word or phrase: the answer is probably. (If you are in doubt, I work with an IP specialist who can find out for you).

It helps if you are a creative by nature

I have helped to name many enterprises, including The Marketing Compass. I had been thinking about this for months. One Christmas, I pulled a Christmas cracker with our eldest son, Ben and out popped a compass. How about joining ‘marketing’ and ‘compass’ together, I thought, as the brand is all about marketing strategy and direction. Here is the result: …which you’re welcome to join, if you want to ask some questions about branding.

If you need some help – ask me.

See other blog entries by Nigel Temple on branding:

What is branding?

7 ways to build your brand

Brand strategy

Reputation capital

Nigel Temple has helped over 3000 brands to position themselves in the marketplace and attract more customers.

Need some help with your creative thinking skills?

Nigel Temple

Author Nigel Temple

Nigel Temple is a marketing consultant, speaker, trainer and writer. Topics include: AI / ChatGPT, Marketing strategy, Digital marketing, SEO, Copywriting, Mailchimp. Nigel is available to hire for a consultancy meeting, training workshop, speaking event or marketing project. Email: Or call Nigel on: 01628 773128

More posts by Nigel Temple