Brand Essentials: Company Naming Basics

In today’s competitive landscape, selecting the right name for a company is more important than ever. A strong name resonates with costumers—it acts as a conduit between customer and brand. No other element, other than a logo perhaps, advances a brand to create a lasting impression quite like a name.

The wrong company name can hobble overall branding efforts. Inappropriate names do more harm than good and can lead to confusion, mistrust or negative associations. The old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” rings true with naming. If a name doesn’t convey meaning or spark the imagination, marketing will be a constant uphill battle.

Traits of a good name:

  • Memorable: It should be distinctive, short, and easy to spell — different from the competition.
  • Easy to pronounce: It should flow well and roll off the tongue smoothly.
  • Visually pleasing: Every name will be translated into some type of logo. It should be visually engaging.
  • Meaningful: It should communicate, have substance, and provide some type of connection.
  • Positive: It should have favorable connotations that connect to the brand, no negative associations.
  • Sustainable: It should be timeless, growth oriented, and fit with possible future endeavors.
  • Legally available: It is available and can be owned. The domain is available.

Types of names:

  • Surname: Names derived from founders such as Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Wendy’s, and DuPont.
  • Acronym: Names that use letters such as DKNY, UPS, AT&T, and CNN. Acronyms are often difficult to remember and lack meaning. Most recognizable acronyms come from well-established companies that have abbreviated an original name.
  • Descriptive: Names with literal connotations such as Medco Health Solutions, International Assets Holdings, and Hartford Financial Services.
  • Metaphor: Names with specific reference to a place, object, animal or word such as Nike, Starbucks, Sundance, Target, and Caterpillar.
  • Abstract: Fabricated names that are memorable and easy to pronounce such as Xerox, HuLu, Xpedx, and Synnex.
    Hybrid Spellings: A combination of words or unique spelling such as Avnet, Comcast, Verizon, NetFlix, and Qwest.

Like any creative process, creating a strong company name takes a lot of time and a sound strategy. At Engine 8 we start the naming process for clients by researching, brainstorming and unearthing possibilities. We typically generate over one hundred potential names at first, then narrow the focus based on specific branding objectives. The direction and type of name often depend on a company’s unique brand personality, the intended audience, and the type of industry they are competing in.

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