What Goes Into Naming Your Brand?

by | Apr 3, 2018

Oh Romeo!

Recently I was driving through town, and the local theater company is staging a production of that Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet. One of the famous portions of the play has Juliet opining “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet is reflecting on the differences between the names “Capulet” and “Montague,” coming to the conclusion that their family names shouldn’t matter. Today this phrase is commonly used to express that it’s not the name that matters, it’s “what’s inside.” While the sentiment might be true in love, when it comes to branding, nothing could be further from the truth.

It doesn’t matter what it is that we’re naming—a person, business, or product—the proper name is critical. Your name needs to be unique, important, and resonate with your audience. If you’re selling air fresheners to at-home moms, you probably wouldn’t call your product “Pete’s Tire Fix-All.” The name just doesn’t fit! There is no connection, or resonance, with your audience. Could you imagine the conversation?

“Hey Jayne, I love that air freshener, what is it?”

“Oh, that’s ‘Apple Cinnamon’ from…ah…Pete’s Tire Fix-All”

The person asking about the scent might think that they would have to look for a tire repair shop to purchase the fragrance. The name can cause confusion with your audience. Confusion will cause a negative reaction among prospects that you’re hoping to convert.

Going Beyond the Prospect

Once you’ve converted an unknown individual into a prospect your relationship has started. When that happens—when you’ve caused the unknown passer-by to take notice of your brand—your name matters. Your name helps set the basis for the relationship. This relationship and your conversation with your customers can last anywhere from minutes to years.

Once your customer relationship has begun, whether it’s B2C, B2B, B2A, or whatever business model you use, your name is important. Your name, along with how it resonates with your customer, bears a tremendous impact on the determination for the consumer relative to if they will invest with your brand. The name of your product is even more important in a longer-term relationship. There are a few areas that you should look at and pay close attention to when determining your brand, or company name.

When you start the process of naming your brand there are some important areas to look at, that will help your brand turn this valuable brand asset in to a valuable tool working for your brand 24/7/365.

Effective Name Characteristics

When it comes to effectively naming your brand there are some characteristics that brand names should have:

Domain / Protection – Are you going to be able to legally protect the name? Can you own, register, and trademark your name? Will you be able to obtain the domain for your brand?

Meaningful – Make sure your name communicates and resonates with your customers. Make sure that the name communicates the essence of what your brand is to your customer. Will the name be something that will resonate, no matter where they interact with you? Something that will remind them of you when they hear or see it?

Positive Message – Does your brand provide a positive meaning to all potential customers? Have you ensured that in your market your brand name does not portray a negative emotion?

Visual – Make sure your name lends itself to be used within all aspects of your branding such as your logo. Will the name fit in and help clearly identify the visual aspect of the brand?

Future Ready – Is your name able to adjust freely to future possibilities? Will your naming continue to work as your company grows?  What if your company or brand direction changes?

Uniqueness – Is your name easy to remember? Will customers be able to spell it, let alone be able to pronounce it? Are you sure it doesn’t already exist? Make sure to spend adequate time to search for names similar to yours to ensure there is no conflict. Duplicate brand names can also lead to legal issues, especially in related industries.

Modular – Does your name allow your brand to create brand extensions? Can you add to your brand without diminishing your core brand?

Speakability – Does your name spell the way one would expect? Are you going to have to spell the name every time you tell it to someone? Try to test the speakability by leaving a voicemail to see if it sounds OK.


By implementing a name that is unique, important, and resonates with your audience, you will help establish a relationship. Spend the time necessary to create a name that properly reflects your brand. Use the effective characteristics list to zero in on the name that will help your brand grow and work for you.

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  1. Jennifer Thomas

    Consider the target market’s reaction to color, too – it has an emotional effect. For example, white is associated with purity in some cultures but is as strongly associated with death in other cultures.

    • Eric Wyatt

      Great thought Jennifer. Color has an incredible impact on branding. What brands do you think exemplify great color theory as part of their branding?


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