The brand name is a fundamentally important choice because it often captures the central theme or key associations of a product in a very compact and economical fashion. Because brand names are so closely tied to the product in the minds of consumers however, the brand name is also the most difficult element for marketers to change further down the track. Thus it’s a good idea to research them before making a decision.

Naming Guidelines: Selecting the right brand name for your product or service is a true art and science. Figure 1.0 and below displays different types of possible brand names. Like any brand element, brand names must be chosen with six general criteria in mind; memorability, meaningfulness, likability, transferability, adaptability and protectibility.

Figure 1.0

Brand awareness

Brand Awareness can be improved if brand names are simple and easy to pronounce or spell. Familiar and meaningful, and different, distinctive, and unusual can obviously improve brand awareness.

Simplicity and ease of pronunciation and spelling reduces the effort consumers have to make to comprehend and process the brand name. Short names can also facilitate brand recall because they are easy to encode in memory- e.g. Raid, Off, Aim, Bic. It’s also an option to shorten longer names e.g. Coke (Coca Cola), Chevy (Chevrolet) and Bud (Budweiser).

Familiarity and Meaningfulness can tap into existing knowledge structures. It can be concrete or abstract in meaning. Because the names of people, objects, birds, animals and inanimate objects already exist in memory, consumers have to do less to understand their meaning as brand names. Links form more easily increasing memorability. You can also suggest the product or service category to improve brand recall e.g. Ticketek, Juicyjuice, Newsweek. For example, it may be difficult to introduce a soft drink if the brand name is Juicyjuice.

Differentiation, distinctiveness and uniqueness– although choosing a simple brand name can improve recallability, if you want to improve brand recognition your bran name needs to be different, distinctive, and unusual. A brand name can be distinctive because it is inherently unique, or because it is unique in the context of other brands in the category.

Brand Associations

Because the brand name is a compact form of communication, the explicit and implicit meanings potential customers derive from it are important. In particular, the brand name can reinforce positioning. See figure 1.1 below:

Figure 1.1

Meaningful brand names are not necessarily restricted to real words. Consumers can extract meaning, if they so desire, even from fanciful or made up brand names. Marketers generally devise made up brand names systematically, basing words on combinations of morphemes. A morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit having meaning. There are 6,000 morphemes in the English language, including real words like “man” and prefixes, suffixes and roots. By combining carefully chosen morphemes, marketers can construct brand names that actually have some relatively easy inferred or implicit meaning.

Figure 1.2 below contains an overview of different categories of linguistic characteristics, with definitions and examples. Even an individual letter can conatin meaning that may be useful in developing a new brand name.

6 Step System (to creating a ‘def’ Brand Name)


  1. Define Objectives: What are your branding objectives based on the six general criteria I mentioned earlier in this article? Define the ideal meaning the brand should convey. Think about how your brand should relate to other brands in the same category, and consider the brand heirarchy (see my pevious article on brand hierarchy here.)
  1. Generate Names: With the brand strategy in place generate as many names as possible. Any potential sources of names are valid: employees, company management, existing or potential customers, ad agencies, specialized naming consultants.
  1. Screen Initial Candidates: Do a quick and dirty legal search to help screen out possible problems. Remove names that have 1) unintentional double meaning 2) are unpronounceable 3) have obvious legal implications and 4) contradict the positioning in an obvious way.


  1. Study Candidate Names: Collect more extensive info on the final 5-10 names. An international legal screening is a good idea.


  1. Research final Candidates: Conduct consumer research. Sometimes firms will attempt to simulate the actual marketing program consumers are likely to engage with. Thus, they may show consumers the product and it’s packaging, price, or promotion so they understand the rationale for the brand name and how it will be used.


  1. Select the Final name: Based on all the information you have collected from the previous step, choose the name which maximizes the firms branding and marketing objectives and then formally register it.


O W Lovell



Thanks again to:


Keller, K L (2001).Strategic Brand Management: Building, measuring, and managing brand equity (3rd ed.).New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.