Naming your new company or product is a tricky business.

It often feels like all the good names are taken, so entrepreneurs looking to non-dictionary words when choosing brand names. After all, it certainly worked for Kodak, Ziffit, Trello, Häagen-Dazs and many other household names. A non-dictionary word can be unique and memorable, helping your brand stand out from the competition. But before you start throwing Scrabble letters around, there are some points to consider when making up a brand name.

Keep it simple.

Consumers like simple names. They like them to be short and sweet, usually two syllables or less. Short names are quicker to type, easy to spell and remember, easier to share, flexible for design, and less likely to be shortened by others. They should also be pronounced the way they are spelt unless that’s a little quirk that brings something to the branding – check out this recent Hyundai advert that pokes fun at Brits trying to pronounce their name.

This might sound a bit formulaic and boring, but unless you have millions to spend on advertising, you need something memorable from the outset.

Drop a letter, gain a new name.

Removing letters from a dictionary word to make a brand name unique has been a very successful tactic for a number of businesses. Just look at:

  • Flickr
  • Grindr
  • Dunkin’
  • Scribd
non-dictionary brand names

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Check for availability.

Even making up a word can’t guarantee that someone hasn’t beaten you to it. A quick Google search should be your first step, followed by checking whether any patents or domains have been registered against it. You’ll want to register the .com for your business or product straight away. If it’s not available, someone got there first, and it’s back to the drawing board.

Consider search engine optimisation.

Your amazing new brand name needs to be something your audience can find online. By choosing an original name, you won’t be competing with other businesses for search engine rankings. This is also a good time to check whether your chosen name has a meaning in another language – Sega means something very different in Italian!

Try it and see!

Overall, whether or not to use a non-dictionary word for your brand name will depend on your specific business and branding goals. If you consider using a non-dictionary word, it can be helpful to test it out with potential customers to see how well it resonates with them. Customer feedback is one of the most invaluable resources when it comes to choosing the right name for your emerging brand.

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 - or helping you create one.