But why are brand names important?
Essentially they serve as a key identifier of businesses and the services they offer. At their best, brand names can convey in a few words powerfully what a company is and what it stands for. Even, in some cases, evoke emotional responses from their audience.
Today, it’s not uncommon to find brands with strange names that have still managed to achieve incredible success. This is because those names effectively convey the company’s qualities and values, despite sounding unusual. As long as a brand name is easy to spell, catchy, and accurately represents what the company aims to accomplish, its uniqueness can be an asset.
Here we’ll explore 10 types of brand names and the pros and cons that come with them.
types of brand names with examples
When it comes to brand names, different agencies and blogs categorize them in various ways. While this list is in no way definitive, it’s a useful tool for analyzing the most popular brand names.
Each of the 10 types of brand names will be accompanied by an example. Just bear in mind, the type of company name you choose will have a significant impact on your brand architecture, logo design, and tagline.
As we’ll see from the examples of brand names, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the perfect name for your business.
Evocative brand names
Evocative brand names strike a balance between descriptive and obscure terms. Companies craft these types of names to subtly, yet powerfully convey a particular idea or feeling to their target audience. Rather than plainly stating what they do, evocative names use nuanced language that resonates emotionally.
They hint at benefits or values through intuitive associations, stirring imagery, or plays on words. This strategic approach aims to capture attention while cultivating intrigue, helping the brand linger meaningfully in the mind.
Crafting an evocative yet not overly explicit domain name aligns with this branding technique, keeping prospective customers engaged through subtle yet stirring implications.
These kinds of brand names tend to be easier to trademark than descriptive names and are essential in establishing a unique brand identity.
However, leadership buy-in for evocative names can be challenging. This is due to the need for imagination in unpacking their meaning. Hence, defining expectations and establishing stakeholder alignment is crucial from the start of any naming project.
Examples of successful evocative brand names are:
Invented Brand Names
Want a name that’s unique and memorable? Then invented names are probably the best types of brandable names to go for. They are often used when a company wants to create a completely new word that has no prior meaning, so it can be more easily trademarked.
Invented names can be highly effective because they are distinctive and have no pre-existing associations. They allow the brand to stand out from the competition and create a strong visual identity.
This type of name is commonly used in industries like technology, where a unique and memorable name can help to establish a new product or service. Invented names are also a good option for brands that want to convey a sense of innovation or cutting-edge technology.
However, this type of name can be difficult to pronounce and remember, which can make it harder for customers to find and remember the brand. It can also be challenging to create an invented name that is not already trademarked.
Invented brand name examples include:
geographical brand names
Some brands are intrinsically linked to the cities or regions they represent or where they originated, such as Canada Dry, New York Life, and Nantucket Nectars.
Geographic names bring a brand to life by evoking cultural, natural, and historical associations with the place they represent. Names like Outback and Klondike suggest adventure in the wilderness, while Hawaiian Punch and Florida’s Natural evoke images of pristine beaches and bountiful orange groves.
Geographic names are often associated with companies that started catering to a local audience and then became big players in their industry. However, one of the main drawbacks of this naming type is that it limits the brand’s expansion into other markets.
If you name your brand after a city or state, it may become difficult to expand beyond that region. This is a common sign that it may be time to rebrand your business.
Moreover, geographic names are often already taken in your industry. If you add a city or state name before your product or service, chances are high that there is already an existing business with that name.
Examples of geographic brand names include:
- New York Life
- Nantucket Nectars
- American Airlines
- Arizona Tile
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Florida’s Natural
- Canada Dry
- Hawaiian Punch
- Arizona Tile
- Sierra Nevada
- Brooklyn Brewery
Founder Brand Names
Founder brand names are those that are named after the people who started the company, such as Kellogg’s, Ford, and Ben & Jerry’s. While this tradition dates back to the earliest brands, founder-based names are not as common nowadays.
One advantage of founder names is that they are easy to trademark and can be distinctive if positioned correctly. They can also leverage the existing brand equity of a celebrity or influencer. However, founder names usually require some marketing investment to build a strong brand around.
Unless the founder is a celebrity closely tied to the brand, the value behind the name may not be immediately clear. This makes founder names a less-than-ideal starting point for a compelling brand narrative
Some examples of companies with founder names include:
- Mrs. Fields
- Calvin Klein
Acronymic Brand Names
Acronymic brand names have become synonymous with large, national corporations such as IBM, BP, and UPS. However, using acronyms for branding comes with some challenges.
Unlike other types of names, acronyms don’t have any inherent meaning. Instead, their significance is derived from the years of branding and marketing efforts that have gone into creating brand recognition and trust.
While established brands have succeeded in making their acronymic names memorable and trustworthy, startups might find it challenging to come up with a compelling reason to choose this type of name. Acronyms are not easy to remember and can be even harder to trademark.
Despite these challenges, many well-known brands continue to use acronymic names successfully.
Some Acronymic brand names types include:
Playful brand names often involve made-up words or names with no direct reference to a company’s actual operations. These names are fun and impactful, making them a great choice for businesses that want to make an impression fast. However, they may not be suitable for everyone. Just like Marmite, some people will either love these names, or hate them. Nevertheless, playful names do stand out and are usually quite “sticky” and easy to remember.
As mentioned, a major advantage of a playful name is its memorability. A name that is unique, and catchy will help your brand stand out from the competition. This is especially important in industries that are overcrowded and highly competitive. Playful names also have the ability to evoke positive emotions and create a sense of whimsy around a brand.
On the downside, playful names can be difficult to trademark and protect legally. Since they are often made-up words, they may not meet the criteria for trademark registration, leaving them vulnerable to infringement by competitors. Additionally, some customers may not take a business with a playful name seriously, particularly in industries where professionalism and trust are crucial.
Examples of playful brand names are:
- Funky Pigeon
- Chirp Books
- Squatty Potty
Descriptive Brand Names
One of the most common types of brand names used in the business world are Descriptive names. One reason for this is that they are straightforward, simply describing what the company does or offers. While this may seem a tad uncreative, this is a great tool if transparency is important for your company. You also get the benefit of instantly communicating what your brand is all about.
Descriptive names can work particularly well to build trust and credibility with potential customers. A descriptive name is also a good option for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. For example, if a customer is searching online for a “Bread Baker” and your business name happens to be “Bread Baker Bob”, chances are your website will rank higher on search engines for the keyword “Bread Baker”.
However, bear in mind that descriptive names can forgettable or generic, making it harder for the brand to stand out in a crowded marketplace. It’s important to find ways to differentiate the brand, such as through a unique selling proposition or a memorable visual identity.
Examples of descriptive brand names include:
General Electric American Airlines Toys “R” Us Pizza Hut The Home Depot
Alphanumeric names, a combination of letters and numbers, are a popular way to make a business name more unique. While not our preferred method, adding a number to a name can make it stand out and sound effective in certain sectors. Common numbers used include 24 or 247 (to signify availability 24/7), 360 (to suggest all-around vision), and 365 (to indicate being open all-year). They are also popular in the technology or automotive industries to signify progression, such as iPhone 8 or Mazda 3.
That being said, alphanumeric names can be difficult to remember. They often lack a clear meaning or brand association which is crucial for a new business. In some industries, such as finance or law, an alphanumeric name may not be the best option as it can come across as too informal or unprofessional.
Examples of alphanumeric brand names include:
- MS Office 365
- Five Guys
While not always the most creative option, alphanumeric names can be a useful way to add a unique element to a brand name and make it more memorable.
compound brand names examples
Compound names are one of the many types of brand names that can be used to create a unique identity for a business. By bringing together two or more words to form a new one, businesses can create a name that is both memorable and distinctive. However, creating a compound name that is snappy and easy to remember can be a bit of a task.
One potential downside of compound names is that they can be hard for people to spell or remember. Additionally, compound names may not always accurately convey the core competencies of a business. For example, while “Weetabix” is a unique and memorable name, it does not immediately indicate that the company produces a type of breakfast cereal.
Despite these potential drawbacks, many businesses have successfully used compound names to create a strong brand identity.
Examples of compound names include:
- FedEx (formerly Federal Express)
- NatWest (formerly National Westminster Bank)
These names demonstrate how combining two or more words can create a distinctive and memorable brand identity.
Among the many different types of brand name are Technical names. These are typically related to the specific technologies used in a business or product. While technical names may not be the most exciting names out there, a well-crafted one that blends a mix of modern words, technical language, and specific function can be incredibly effective.
Examples of technical names include:
These technical brand name examples convey a sense of precision and technological expertise in their respective industries. However, it’s important to note that names may not be easily recognizable or memorable for customers who are not familiar with the technical jargon, which could potentially limit their appeal.
Different Types Of Brand Names -The Takeaway
Naming a brand can be a difficult task, regardless of the type of brand name you choose. The process can be frustrating, as most great brand name ideas are already trademarked. However, with the right tools, patience, and a team that is aligned around the criteria and expectations of the search, it can be a rewarding journey.
When searching for a brand name, there are important criteria to consider. The name should align with the brand positioning, embody the brand personality, embody one or more brand benefits, avoid negative or stigmatized concepts, and have an available trademark and URL.
It is important to keep your expectations realistic and assume that the perfect brand name does not exist. While a great name is important, there is more to building a strong brand than just a name. A great company can make even a poor name seem genius.
Names do not exist in a vacuum and require a comprehensive brand experience to come to life fully. Therefore, it is essential to keep an open mind when searching for a name. A calculated risk on an unconventional name can lead to competitive differentiation and lasting brand loyalty.
Ultimately, the best brand name is the one that inspires you and your organization to do great things. With a strong verbal and visual identity extended into a memorable brand experience, a branding agency can build a world-class brand around almost any name you choose.