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How do you come up with a brand name?

I'm trying to create a brand name but i'm finding the process quite tricky. Does anyone have any tips on how to get inspired when trying to come up with a brand name?

Top voted answer
Tom Valcanis

Tom Valcanis, Copywriter at

I would say don't settle for the first thing you come up with - chances are someone else had the same thought.

I personally think making what you do into an adverb is quite lazy (i.e., you make rope? Ropely. Terrible.) but if you can be creative with it, then go for your life.

A brand has to represent something, even if your target audience doesn't realise it immediately:
 

  • Nike is named after the Roman god of victory. If you play sport, you want to win, right?
  • Pfizer, McDonalds, Disney etc. are all just the last names of founders.
  • Starbucks was chosen after an ad agency friend of the founders said words beginning with "St" are powerful (strong, strident, etc.)
  • Sunkist is a play on "sun kissed". Oranges must grow in warmer weather.
  • Google is a deliberate misspelling of "googol" derived from the "googolplex," a massive number, something that computers and the internet rely upon.
  • Microsoft is just a compound word representing MICROcomputer and SOFTware.
  • Jeff Bezos chose Amazon for his start-up because it was close to the top of the alphabet and sounded exotic. The Amazon river is also the longest river in the world and he had ambitions to make his bookshop the biggest in the world (looks like it worked!)
  • Coca-Cola was so named due to its main ingredient being cocaine. Pepsi was so named because it was marketed to relieve "dyspepsia"/an upset stomach.
  • Red Bull is named because it's a direct translation of the original Thai drink (Krating Daeng.) Unrelated but interesting: Its main ingredient is Taurine, derived from Taurus, the Greek word for Bull.
Choosing a word out of thin air can work, as long as you have some meaning behind it. But my advice is to narrow your parameters to a few areas such as:
  • The brand must sum up the value offering or service (I Sell Words)
  • Be consistent with other industries (Law firms are usually just named after founding partners.)
  • Tangentially represent something your product or service provides (i.e. naming your courier service Hermes, after the messenger of the Gods.)
  • Take a root adjective and play on that - if you seek to be Bold, use Bo words, or synonyms, etc. Make a mind-map.
I hope that helps!
 

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Great response @Tom Valcanis . I wonder what Apple represents! 

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Paige Arnof-Fenn

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls

Top 10% Marketing

 

We do a lot of naming work for our clients, the first step in naming is to create the committee or team in charge, identify who else should be involved in the process and then set the criteria.   Here are some examples of possible criteria:

  1. has versatility (works in multiple ways from course name to concept to book)
  2. is “sexy” (catches fire/engaging)
  3. can be sustainable over time (longevity)
  4. looks good
  5. sounds good when spoken
  6. contains playful element
  7. beginning of alphabet if possible
  8. URL available

Once these are confirmed then you can start the naming process.  We have many exercises to help generate names and a process to pare them down and test for a winner.  It is a lot of fun and harder than it looks.  For my company when I started the firm I jokingly referred to the women as the Marketing Mavens & the guys as the Marketing Moguls & for short I called them Mavens & Moguls as a working name but never expected it would stick.  I did research over e-mail with prospective clients, referrers, media, etc & tested ~100 names.  Mavens & Moguls was one choice on the list &  to my great delight & surprise it came out as a clear winner.  It has helped us be memorable and stand out from the pack.  Because I have a hyphenated last name half the battle is for clients to be able to find you when they need your help.  I have had clients tell me they could not remember anything other than my first name & one word of my company so they googled Paige & Mavens and we popped right up.  I was at an event one day and a venture capitalist started waving in my direction and shouted "hi Maven!" across the crowd, everyone looked my way and we ended up getting introduced to a portfolio company that hired us!  Names contribute to your brand and in our case I think it has been a major plus.  Maven is Yiddish for expert and a Mogul is someone of rank, power or distinction in a specified area.  I like the alliteration and I think it sets us apart from other consulting firms.  It shows a little personality & attitude and implies we do not take ourselves too seriously.    Would you rather hire "Strategic Marketing Solutions" or Mavens & Moguls?  We are the "not your father's Oldsmobile" of marketing firms.  If nothing else our name is a great conversations starter and getting into a conversation is all it takes to open a door. 

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

@Tom Valcanis also mentioned Amazon was chosen because it was at the "beginning of alphabet". What's the reasoning behind this? 

You do have a great business name by the way. Very memorable. Great to read the story behind it!

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Paige Arnof-Fenn

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls

Top 10% Marketing

Thanks so much Yee we are branding experts after all so glad you find it memorable ;-)  You have to stand out to get noticed.  Being in the beginning of the alphabet often puts you at the top of lists for industry round ups, directories, etc. so it's just another way to break through to get attention. 
 

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Ah yes, that makes sense!

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