With an ever-increasing amount of companies clamoring to win the attention of consumers, making a purchase decision often comes down to a frenetic round of brand speed dating. And in many cases, the only chance a brand gets to make the very important first impression starts and ends with its name. For this reason, company and product naming specialists rely on a mix of elements to ensure appeal to would-be brand suitors.

Below, we’ll explore three key naming essentials that will make your brand more attractive in the marketplace.

Key Communication

Communication is crucial to any successful relationship and just as the lack thereof has the ability to destroy friendships and marriages, ineffective communication in branding can also kill consumer/brand relationships.

Since a name can generally convey one or two communications, it is important to get clear about what is most important about your company or offering.

Sometimes those communications are very direct — for example, BestBuy is all about saving money. But even when less direct, your name is always a vessel for communication. Arro, a NYC taxi app, conveys getting somewhere quickly. How is this accomplished? The image of an arrow evokes a straight line, and as we all know, the shortest distance between two points is a line.

Here are some well-known examples of brands whose name clearly convey their top communications:

  • Amazon (online marketplace): vastness

  • Dove (personal care products): gentleness, purity, cleanliness

  • Apple (computers/technology): difference, as a fruit metaphor was very unusual for the time Apple was named

  • Blackrock (hedge fund): power and solidity


Even if your communication is on point, if personalities don’t mesh, positive relationships are difficult to cultivate. But what do personality and naming have to do with each other, you ask? Quite simply, it’s a matter of trust — something that’s hard to come by these days. In fact, according to Havas, 54% of people don’t trust brands.

In order for a consumer to trust your brand they need to know who you are — aka, your personality. And to convey your personality, your name needs the proper tonality and construction.

With your name acting as the tip of the spear, its tonality will represent the larger personality of your organization or product. Are you friendly or aggressive, luxury or bargain? Sexy or family friendly? All of this can be conveyed through your name.

A common method we use at River & Wolf to help our clients inject personality into their brand names is to have them select all the “tones” that apply to their business and product.

  • Wise/intelligent

  • Original

  • Timeless

  • Classic/Classical

  • Ultra luxury

  • Exciting/powerful

  • Pioneering/innovative

  • Scientific/technical

  • Wild/free

  • Heartwarming/sentimental

  • Poetic/musical

  • Natural/outdoors

  • Sporty/athletic

  • Hip/modern

  • Stylish/fashionable

Personality is also conveyed through name construction. Brand naming agencies divide naming constructions in various way, but broadly the key types are made up of fanciful names (Frisbee, Youtube, Lunesta); arbitrary names, or names with no relationship to the product or service (Apple, Amazon); names that call out some aspect of a product (Purell Purell® hand sanitizer or Coppertone® suntan lotion); descriptive name (International Business Machines) and acronyms (AOL, America Online).

To get a better sense of different categories of brand names, have a look at how my brand naming firm as well as others, identifies these categories.


Everyone has a story—a history full of experiences that make you who you are. These different stories draw us together and make us want to learn more about each other. With a little outside the box thinking, it’s possible to pack a powerful story in your company and product names. These micro-stories provide an efficient way for you to tell your brand story every time your name is seen or spoken.

And with most brands not able to spend millions of dollars securing ad placements to tell their stories, micro-storytelling is a resource-conscience method that pays dividends many times over.

There are a few ways that you can use micro-storytelling in naming. Here’s a look at how some brands cram a tale into their mark:


Dimond: Bicycle brand Dimond demonstrates. Beyond the many metaphors associated with Diamonds (lasting, luxury, etc.), the name reflects the company’s use of single-diamond geometry.

Back Story

AirBnB: When co-founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, moved to San Francisco in 2007, they were struck by the cost of living and incredible demand for hotels. They came up with a solution by inflating three air-beds (air-mattresses) in their living room and renting them out to travelers at prices far lower than the average hotel. Thus, Airbnb was born.


Goldiebox: Debbie Sterling, the creator of Goldiebox—a toy designed to develop engineering interest in girls—struck naming gold when she played off of the love many young girls have for fairy tales (Goldielocks and the Three Bears)—illustrating that even the girliest of girls can build with the boys.

Nowhere is the saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” truer than in business. Make sure your company and product names get off on the right foot and make it easy for consumers to know who you are. Only then will they decide whether or not to take the leap of faith and enter into a lasting relationship.