Brand naming process


How tos

A great name can play an important role for a brand. While the brand name isn’t a substitute for the reputation that comes with a good product or service, it can help it stand out in a competitive market.

A memorable brand name that resonates with consumers sets a powerful stage. The brand name is the container of meaning. It is how people will talk about it.

The process of finding a name is called naming. This is the naming process we follow at Make it Clear.

1. Intro

Start by describing the thing that you are naming. Is it a company, a product or a service? What makes it unique? What do you want it to be best known for? Get a clear idea of what your name needs to communicate.

Map your competition. Understand the landscape where your brand will exist. Which names are taken? Which ones are good? How is the audience responding to them?

Now it is time to put pen to paper.

2. Make a list

Divide your list by name categories. You can have as many categories as you like. We normally use four: descriptive, suggestive, abstract and legacy.

Descriptive: names that describe what the company does like Snapchat, PayPal, DirecTV, Playstation and Toys R Us.

Suggestive: they set an evocative mood for the brand like Apple, Sky, O2, Red Bull and Uber.

Abstract: these are made up words that have a strong memorable sound and have the potential to gain new meaning like Google, Skype, Kodak, Yahoo and Rolex.

Legacy: these include founder’s names, nicknames and organisation acronyms that may already be in use, even if not officially, like Ferrari, Chanel, Adidas, IBM and H&M.

3. Generating names

Once you have your categorised list you can start writing names down.


Keep them short.

Easy to memorize.

Easy to say in any language.

Build your creative team. Bring people on board whose criteria you trust, but make sure they will offer different points of view. Start a collaborative document where everyone on the team can write down their ideas. Add everything that you come up with. Look up synonyms and analogies. Search for interesting words. Write as many word combinations as possible. Include syllables that add meaning. Create acronyms. Explore every possibility without second guessing any of them.

4. Short list

Print out the list and gather the team. Some names will look very similar. Some new combinations may appear. Let everyone pick their favourite names and veto the bad ones. Once this process is done, you will have culled quite a few weak names. Then let the team have another go at discarding. Pretty soon you will be left with just a few favourite ones. Make sure you leave at least 5 names per category.

5. Background check

You have your short list of 20 names. Now it is time to find out if they are viable. Do a search to see if they already exist. If they already exist in your sector they are certainly not an option. This will help you get rid of some more. Research the names in case they have a negative connotation in other cultures or languages. Finally, you need to check if the domain is available. If you have budget to buy a taken domain, this is a good option. If you don’t, you can either think creatively about domain choices, or go back to the drawing board on the name.

Keep editing your list until you have only one or two names left per category.

6. Presenting

When presenting, lay out your final names in big Helvetica font. That way you can test if they are visually attractive, without attaching any branding to them. The client might discard a perfectly good name because they don’t like the style you chose for it. Explain the rationale behind each concept and how you arrived at it.

Hopefully one of your presented names will resonate with the client. If not, you can always go back and recover names you had discarded at an earlier stage, or go through the whole process again.

Remember that picking a name is a big decision for a brand. Be patient and open minded; this process is likely to take some time.