brand naming ideasCurrently our firm is working with a start-up company to help create their corporate name, brand/product name, brand image, company website, etc. It’s a really exciting project, but unfortunately I can’t share the details with you yet. (Stay tuned!). However, it has got me thinking about brand names, why they are so important, and what makes a great brand name.

What’s in a Name?

With any name – person, corporation, brand – you have an immediate, and sometimes subconscious, impression based solely on the name. Take for instance the girls’ names Gertrude and Jasmine. Right away I’m sure you have an idea in your mind about what each girl would look like and something about their personality. The impression may be based on previous interactions with someone of that name or on something you associate with that name. The mind can be mysterious in how it makes connections and associations. It works the same with brand and product names.

Therefore, the name you chose for your brand or products is extremely important. Whatever you pick will leave an impression in the viewer’s mind, even before learning about what you sell.

Your Name is Part of Your Identity

Your Brand and/or Product Name plays a major role in the your company’s identity. The tone and words you choose say a lot about your brand’s personality. A name like Cracker Jack is fun, whereas something like Staples is more serious and evokes an image of business.

The name also works to support and explain the brand or product. For example, BandAid and Clorox both relate very closely to what their products are. In some cases, the name has no obvious relation, but choosing a name that helps explain the product assists in solidifying the connection between name and product in the user’s mind.

Be Careful

You don’t want to choose a name that generates inappropriate associations with your products or services. Or worse, choosing a name that actually means something else – this sometimes happens when using your name in a country with another language. For example, Ford couldn’t understand why their Pinto model wasn’t selling in Brazil. After some research, they found out that “Pinto” in Brazilian is slang for “tiny male genitals.” Oops!

brand names mistakes

For more funny examples, check out Natalie’s 13 Brand Blunders Busted! post. Trust me, it’s worth the read!

7 Criteria for a Great Brand Name

The Online Journal of Business and Design shares an excerpt of branding expert Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap where he outlines 7 criteria for a good brand name: distinctiveness, brevity, appropriateness, easy spelling and pronunciation, likability, extendability, and protectability.

How do you choose a name that meets these criteria and fits your company? There are various steps you need to take, which I explain in next week’s post on How to Name a Brand or Product. Don’t miss the post — subscribe by email or RSS.

What companies do you think have done a good job at choosing a brand or product name? What are some examples of poor choices? Share in the comments!

Read more: Why Are So Many Brands Forgetting Their Apostrophes?