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Coming up with the right name for a brand, product or service can be a challenging and often time-consuming process. By default, every concept shortlisted is vulnerable to subjectivity and emotion, the availability of relevant domains and of course, the vagaries of trademarking.

Naming approaches typically fall into the following five basic categories:

Invented – These are totally made-up or manufactured names, often ‘hybrid’ in their approach involving the fusing of two or more words or part words to make a new one e.g. Amstrad, Adidas, and Durex. There is a considerable legal advantage to these names given their individuality, but larger marketing budgets are often required to create understanding and meaning.

Suggestive – These have a direct connection to the product or services’ primary benefit or positioning e.g. Pound Land or Specsavers. They offer strong differentiation, potent imagery and good protection. They are, nevertheless, vulnerable to imitation and relatively more costly to build.

Arbitrary – These are what appear to be random names, often deliberately provocative and disruptive within the context of their own sector e.g. Virgin or Apple. The advantages of this approach, is that it provides a blank canvas on which to base a name, enables you to establish powerful differentiators and strong protection. They are, however, costly to build.

Originator – These are based on the founder’s name or a place as in the case of Dyson, Ford and Cisco.

Descriptive – These use straight forward language and real words to describe what the business does e.g. Cornflakes or British Airways. They are great communicators and less costly to build. The limitations are however that the name may be outgrown and that it can be difficult to own/find a name that’s different enough from competitors. They are also difficult and expensive to protect.

As part of the naming project we will consider all approaches available to us in order to arrive at the best solution for your organisation. In respect of the naming process itself, we use the following methodology:

1. Take client brief
2. Carry out additional desk research
3. Compile a list of ‘associated words, terms and phrases’
4. Create a word cloud based on the above in order to identify words of influence
5. Write a name selection brief and brief into the wider team
6. Brainstorm word combinations and associated/relevant words
7. Start developing naming ideas and themes ahead of working up into concepts
8. Shortlist and share with small internal focus group not connected with the project, then score based on the following criteria. This helps sense check our own thinking and enables us to be confident that the names presented to you for selection are fit for purpose.
   a. Domain availability
   b. Trademark availability
   c. 33
   d. Sound
   e. Positioning
   f. Humanity
   g. Energy
   h. Depth
   i. Appearance
   j. Individuality
9. Refine and shortlist again if required
10. Present shortlist to you for discussion and feedback/selection approval
11. Present to focus group for further validation if required


For more information on naming or any of our other branding services, say hello to the brand consultancy team using the contact form on this page.

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