Criteria for Choosing a Brand Name

In a previous post I listed the four categories in which a brand name usually falls: family names, semi-descriptive names, initials and abstract names. Each category has its advantages and disadvantages, and there is no golden rule for a choosing a successful name.

I have been involved quite a few times in selecting a name for a brand. Based on my experience the name should:

  • Help position the brand in the mind of the consumer. Semi-descriptive names, which give customers some information about the product or service, are best in this regard.
  • Not be to generic but also not very limiting. Real life example: a auto insurance company called “Driver’s First Insurance” (a perfect name for their initial offering) decided to get into “Home Insurance”, and suddenly realized that their name is a strong barrier to getting the new message out. Their advertising is now focusing on explaining the customers that “Driver’s First” is not just for drivers, but for home owners too.
  • Be as short as possible. Short names are easier to remember and communicate than long ones.
  • Have no negative connotations in any language. This is particularly important in multi-cultural societies or if the company behind the brand wants to expand internationally.
  • Be easy to pronounce. Customers will be reluctant to talk about your new brand and recommend it if they are not confident about its pronunciation.
  • Be available. There is no point in choosing the name that you cannot protect with a trademark. Imagine the marketing resources you will waist building a brand around it just to find out that somebody else is using it.
  • Be available to register as a domain. In today’s society it’s almost impossible to build the brand without the use of Internet. Make sure you have a domain available for the name you choose.

One last thing: always go for a stand alone name rather than a brand extension. Brand extensions rarely work and end up weakening the brand, but this will be the subject of a different post.

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