“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare

The Bard certainly had a way with words, but when naming your brand, you might find that the words don’t flow quite as freely.

Choosing a name for your brand is a delicate process and certainly isn’t something you can rush through.

After all, the goal is a name that’ll be with you for the lengthy duration of your business.

The first step is to think about specific criteria for your brand name. You can start by asking yourself some questions, such as:

  • Which brand names appeal to you?
  • Are there any you strongly dislike?
  • What are the brand names of businesses most closely related to yours?
  • Are there any names with negative connotations in your field?
  • What positive aspects of your brand would you like to highlight?

Great brand names are:

  • Easy to pronounce
  • Simple to remember
  • Difficult to misspell
  • Don’t mean something negative in other languages

You might not have done a word cloud since you were in secondary school, but it’s an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing around brand names.

Begin by writing down ten words you associate with your company or product.

Don’t overthink this step – the first ten words are precisely what we’re after.

Got 10? Let’s keep going. Keep the words going as long as possible; we focus on quantity over quality. Together, these words will help you to build a clearer picture of your brand.

Brands named after people, real and fictional.

Elon Musk’s futuristic auto empire takes its name from Nikola Tesla, the pioneering scientist and engineer.

Tesla logo

Delivery service Hermes, sportswear brand Nike, high street jeweller Pandora and retailer Argos all chose names inspired by Greek mythology.

Many companies have taken inspiration from history and folklore when choosing brand names, and it’s an avenue worth exploring.

Brand names taken from other languages.

Some things sound better in other languages, and that can inspire your new brand name. Top online shoe shop Zappos is derived from the Spanish word for shoes, “Zapatos”. Sounds much cooler.

Unfortunately, this can work the other way too. In English, Siri is Apple’s occasionally helpful voice-activated assistant. In Georgia, Siri is obscene slang for penis…

Take inspiration from the world around you.

Place, animals, colours, objects… they can all have a link to your brand and what it stands for.

The outdoor clothing brand Patagonia was inspired by the southernmost region of South America, which the founder had explored extensively.

Sportswear brand Puma is a nod to the agile, athletic big cat.

Do you sell duvets as fluffy as a cloud, sell study guides that will make students as wise as an owl or create authentic Thai curries you’d expect to find on the Khao San Road?

Brands that directly or metaphorically describe your brand.

Amazon is named after the vast South American river, comparing its vast inventory of products to the mighty body of water.

They also have everything from A-Z, a second clever name element.

Some of the biggest names on the high street have chosen names that do precisely what you’d expect, like Poundland, Home Bargains, and Bargain Buys.

Brand names that clearly describe what the company sells or does can help with SEO, as these are the terms that people are commonly searching for.

Naming your business after its founder (or someone they know).

Founder business names are very popular in the UK. Choosing a founder name simplifies the naming process, and there’s a good chance that your name will be unique in your field.

It’s your visions and ideals that your business is being built on, so why not? It’s a chance to connect with your audience on a human level.

The downside of giving your business a founder name is that it doesn’t necessarily tell your potential customers about what you do.

Acronyms and abbreviations work well, especially in tech.

Microsoft, IBM, and AT&T… all far more memorable than the full names they were derived from. Shortening names work well in industries rich in jargon, as they tend to be a lot more catchy.

If in doubt, make it up!

What do Häagen-Dazs, Kodak and Ikea have in common?

Other than being multi-million pound instantly recognisable brands, they’re all brand names that weren’t even words until their founders named their businesses.

Just make sure it’s easy to pronounce and fits with your ethos.

The next step is to consider how your potential brand names will work in the real world.

Which one is easiest to pronounce and spell? Which one sticks in your mind? Is it too long for the average user to feasibly search online?

This is also a good time to check whether someone else is already using your name.

The first step is a quick Google search, but it’s also worth looking at any patents attached to the name and available URLs.


Need help developing the perfect brand name?

Toast has helped big and small brands to develop and redefine their identities, including choosing the right name.

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