When thinking about choosing Business Brand names it’s interesting to think about the different types of brand names there are and how they help form the big brands we know today. In this post, we go through the 10 different types of brand names and which companies fall into each type.
The 10 different types of brand names
Origin names are often derived from the history or foundations of an organisation, or the name of the significant or historic figures of the business. Maybe the founder, principal inventor, or the place that the business first started out.
Examples: DHL (also an acronym) is the three surname initials of the founders. McDonald’s is of course the surname of the founding brothers. Others include Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, John Deere, The North Face, and Yakult.
Emotive or suggestive brand names can be very powerful to use, built around the emotions that a customer feels when they use the service or product. Does your product give them freedom, more time, more money, a sense of well-being, or peace? People often seek an emotional outcome for themselves. These names often use real words, so that people can relate instantly to them.
Examples: Innocent Drinks, Freederm, and Uber.
Descriptive names can be a bit of a cop-out but sometimes they’re the right answer. A niche provider or player in a new market can benefit from a descriptive name, as it helps to explain what they do and educate the customer. Do be careful though, as they can be difficult to trademark if they are anywhere near close to your competitors.
Examples: We Buy Any Car, Google Maps, Lean Cuisine, Wellman, Burger King, and 7-Eleven.
Read more: How to choose a brand name that’s right for you
As common as these are, they should be avoided. We deal with brands on a daily basis and see far too many of them. Businesses usually have an acronym out of necessity – a merger or change that means the name must change but heritage cannot be lost. However, the result is bland – no emotion, no imagery – just letters.
Examples: 3M (shortened from “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing”), H&M (from founders Hennes and Mauritz) and IBM (short for International Business Machines), UCL (a client of ours) stands for University College London, and IKEA actually stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, the founder’s name and places he lived.
Often made-up words and names that have no direct reference to a company’s actual operations, playful names are fun and memorable, but aren’t right for everyone or every industry. A little like Marmite, some love them, others hate them. They do stand out and are usually quite ‘sticky’ and easy to remember.
Examples: MoonPig, Funky Pigeon, and Monster.
Completely fictional, created, and made-up, but somehow they sound right. If you’re finding that every name under the sun has already been taken, then an invented name may be for you, especially if you’re looking for something short that you can successfully trademark.
Examples: Kodak, Häagen-Dazs, Nintendo Wii, Xerox, Accenture (derived from the combination of ‘accent’ and ‘future’), and Dulux (derived from the words ‘durable’ and ‘luxury’).
If you have a great idea but it’s not unique, you can always add a number. Not our preferred method, but adding a number makes names much more unique and can actually sound really effective in some sectors. Common numbers include 24 or 247 (hours and days a week), 360 (all-round vision), and 365 suggesting open all-year. They are also popular in the technology or automotive industries to signify progression – iPhone 8, Mazda 3.
Examples: 123-reg, 888 Poker, MS Office 365, Jigsaw24, WD40, Five Guys. Oh…and Threerooms, of course!
Conjoined or compound names are another good option when you’re looking for something unique. Bring together two or more words to make a new one and there’s a greater chance that it will be unique to you. The challenge is making one that still sounds good.
Examples: Ever heard of Weetabix? Could that be Wheat Biscuits, perhaps? Fed-Ex (formerly Federal Express). Natwest was formerly National Westminster Bank. PayPal simply makes one new word from two. Instagram is a combination of ‘instant camera’ and ‘telegram’.
Metaphors are brilliant for tapping into the imagery side of creating a memorable business brand name. They express an idea by conjuring the image of another. They can relate to absolutely anything, as long as it’s something that your target audience can identify with – stories, characteristics, qualities, cultural icons, or other emotive forces.
The best thing about metaphor names is that they create intrigue. Playing on curiosity and making people want to find out what a company does, there is instant respect when they realise that the name fits the offering of the company.
Examples: Jaguar (speed, agility), Nike (the Greek goddess of victory), Amazon (the largest river in the world), and Gorilla Glue (strong, tough).
Technical names are related to the processes or specific technologies used in a business or product. They are not always the most exciting names, but a well-crafted one that blends a mix of modern words, technical language, and specific function can be very effective.
Examples: Panasonic and Xerox
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