Choosing a brand name can often seem like a daunting task. Especially in 2021, when it seems like all of the good names have already been taken. How do you then pick a name that stands out? One that works five years down the line? One that is quirky and yet means business?

It’s no secret that choosing the right brand name is a fundamental step to laying the foundation for a successful business. Arun Bhati writes for Entrepreneur India – “Good brand names are seldom arbitrary.  They are carefully curated ambassadors of a brand personality that convey its position, tone, and values.” In fact, according to a 2015 study done on teenagers and adults in the United States, around 75% of people confess they would pay more for a brand whose name they like and trust.

Take the example of Da Milano, a high-street leather accessories brand established in India in 1989. Despite its Indian origin, the name ‘Da Milano’ has allowed the brand to position itself as an Italian brand that offers stylish, leather accessories. Italy is known for its stunning craftsmanship and elegant sense of fashion. This association that consumers form has been largely instrumental for the brand’s success and their prices. On the other hand, a brand name like Sreeleathers reflects a more traditional, home-grown approach. The brand positioning and pricing appeals to the sections of the Indian masses who buy leather accessories for rational rather than emotional benefits. 

Simply put, your brand name dictates how much traction your business may or may not get, especially in the initial stages of building your brand. Intimidating right? Fret not. In this guide we will analyse five key principles of choosing a brand name that will make it memorable for others and convenient for you. By making smart choices and educating yourself, you can set yourself up for success. 

  1.   Identifying your target Audience

    “If you don’t know who you’re branding your company for, then you’ll have a much harder time choosing a compelling name” writes Steve Harvey, co-owner of a creative agency in London. Before even beginning to think of a brand name, you must identify which social demographics your audience belongs to, and how you want the brand to be perceived. Whether you want to be perceived as a modern, disruptive brand that is hip to all of the latest trends like Snapchat or Uber. Or if you want to position yourself as a stable, trustworthy brand that has been around for decades and has grown steadily like Tata or British Airways. 

  1.   Availability of domain name

    One of the ABCs of brand naming is checking if a suitable domain name is still available. If it is available for purchase, is it something you can afford? The domain name will act as your digital property and ensuring that you secure one that is parallel if not identical to your brand name is crucial. In fact, you’ll want to go ahead and check if the name is available on social media platforms as well.

  2.  Simplicity

    Does your brand name roll right off the tongue? Is it easy to spell, pronounce correctly and most importantly, remember? These are some of the questions you must ask yourself while naming your brand. The reason why we stress on going with a simple name is because of the damage that comes with picking a long, wordy name. It makes it harder for people to access your website and remember it. When in doubt, keep it simple. Portmanteaus are a great way to come up with a simple, meaningful brand name. A portmanteau is essentially a combination of two root words that encompasses the meaning of both the original words. The name for the American tech giant Intel is made up of “integrated” and “electronics”. However, it is also commonly perceived to be an abbreviation for “intelligent”. Their brand name tells us that their products are both intelligent and reliable.


  3.   Avoid rigid niches

    The idea here is that you should be weary of making your name too restrictive. “You should always choose a brand name that can flex and adjust with your business’ needs over time. The last thing you want is to choose a brand name that boxes you in forever.”-writes Rob Allen for Foundr. He goes on to explain- “If you are launching a Keto supplement company, you might not want to call it KetoProtein. If the Keto trend goes away, that name doesn’t give you much wiggle room to change and grow. But something more malleable like FatForFuel could shift for changing tastes in the marketplace.


  4.   Cultural significance

    Lastly, when picking a name, make sure you check for cultural connotations or context. Oftentimes, the essence of the brand name along with the brand values get lost in translation or are perceived in a different manner in different places. Consider the example of Coca-Cola. When Coca-Cola entered the Chinese market, they had to translate their name in Mandarin, for which they chose to name their product ‘Ke-Kou-Ke-La’. What they did not know was that the characters used meant- “bite the wax tadpole”. Soon enough they realized their mistake and changed the translation to “ko-kou-ko-le”. This is extremely important for those brands hoping to one day establish a global presence and be sought out by audiences across continents. This article by Personal Design, explains how, when the Andersen consulting business was rebranded to Accenture, it was more successful because it was less language and industry specific.

Once you have your top 3-5 brand name options, test it on 20-30 people who represent your target group. Can they enunciate the names right? Which one do they remember most? What could they decipher from the names before you shared the details of your offerings with them? Make sure to not let your personal bias be the yardstick for choosing a brand name. That seldom ends well.

All said and done, brand naming is 80% research and 20% creativity. So, let us worry about the part we can control. Remember, strategic brand names will not only allow you to capture the attention of the right people, they will help you retain that attention. A good name can be one of the biggest assets your brand has.