Brand Naming

One common question I get asked is “what’s the best way to develop a name for my brand”?

If you follow the classic routes then several options are available:

Types of brand names

Acronym: A name made of initials such as UPS or IBM
Descriptive: Names that describe a product benefit or function like Whole Foods or Airbus
Alliteration and rhyme: Names that are fun to say and stick in the mind like Reese’s Pieces or Dunkin’ Donuts
Evocative: Names that evoke a relevant vivid image like Amazon or Crest
Neologisms: Completely made-up words like Wii or Kodak
Foreign word: Adoption of a word from another language like Volvo or Samsung
Founders’ names: Using the names of real people like Hewlett-Packard or Disney
Geography: Many brands are named for regions and landmarks like Gulf Air and Fuji Film
Personification: Many brands take their names from myth like Nike or from the minds of ad executives

Perhaps some of these ideas will spurn your next brand discussion.

Of course these are only relevant if inventing a brand from scratch, or innovating into a truly new area.
However if you have an existing brand or  business ‘mark’, and are planning to expand into new products or services then you have to consider the relevance of using  your existing brand. In this case available options include considering the use of a New Brand, a Brand Extension or a Sub-Brand.
A new brand is a self-evident concept and should be considered when the existing brand cannot possibly work on your new products. This would be the case if (a) new product is in an entirely different market space; (b) new product is in the same market space but being differentiated on pricing or other service components and you want to avoid a direct comparison; (c) you do not want end customers to know the product is from the same supplier/manufacturer as the existing brand.

Brand Extension works if your current brand can easily stretch into the new category or market space that you are planning to enter. You just have to ensure there is no confusion with existing products and both the new and existing products add value to each other by utilising the same name.

Finally for a sub-brand, you are using the “mother” brand name that is in existence and giving it an extra “child”. Famous brands such as Continental, Virgin and Masterfoods do this all the time because the mother brand (or masterbrand) has existing category creds that work to deposit positive associations onto the new lines that they introduce.

Whichever way you go, think about it carefully, ask your customers and consider the implications of every option. Great brand decisions will stick!

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