How to Choose a Great Brand Name

Marshall Strategy regularly advises clients on developing and choosing brand names, and in doing so we always refer to our naming principles. We’re happy to share our list of key principles to consider when naming your product or a company:

Know What You’re Trying to Say With Your Name

Know what you are trying to say before you name it. Brand naming is a highly emotional issue that can be hard to judge objectively. By first agreeing on what your brand name should say, you concentrate your efforts on choosing the name that says it best.

Know What Your Naming Choices Are

It is much easier to commit to a brand name when you have alternative names to consider that solve your communication issues.

Avoid Trendy Names

By definition, these are names that will lose their appeal over time. Choosing a brand name simply because it sounds “hip” or “cool” generally results in names that wear quickly.

“Empty Vessel Names” Require Filling

Made-up or meaningless brand names will require more investment to build understanding, memorability and proper spelling than names that have some inherent meaning. Compare the immediate meaning and relevance of names like Google and Amazon to empty vessels like Kijiji and Zoosk.

Avoid Names That Are Too Specific

Brand names that identify a specific geography, technology or trend might be relevant for a period of time, but in the long run they could restrict your ability to grow.

Understand A Name Can’t Do Everything

Names are powerful tools, but they do not tell the whole story. A brand name alone – without rethinking of all brand communications – could risk being seen as superficial. Consider how new taglines, design, communications and other context-building tools should work with the brand name to build a rich new story that you can own.

Ensure You Can Own Your Name

Check patent and trademark offices, common law usages, URL’s, Twitter handles and regional/cultural sensitivities before you decide, and make the investment to protect your name. This is best done by an experienced intellectual property attorney.

Decide On Your Name With Confidence

Make sure you introduce your brand name as part of a value-oriented story that conveys clear benefits to your employees, customers and shareholders. Commit to the name with confidence and implement as quickly and efficiently as possible. Especially if you’re in the situation of having two names in the market, as it’s confusing to both internal and external audiences.

Contact us to learn how we can help you and your organization with brand names and naming systems.