Episode #25: 7 Types of Brand Names

The 7 Types of Brand Names

In this episode of Building The Brands, I am going to explain the 7 types of names to choose from when naming your business, or the individual products or services that you offer.

This will help you choose a name that is the best fit, and most impactful for your business.

Naming your brand can be one of the most time consuming and stressful parts of defining your brand’s messaging.

After all, your brand name will become one of the first recognizable consumer touchpoints, and will lay the groundwork for how a customer will perceive your brand.

To help make the brand naming process a little more manageable, here are 7 popular brand name types to consider and see if they fit with your business.

1: Descriptive Names

These names are very straightforward and basically convey what the business does, or the products and services offered by the company.

They are functional names, but are typically not very exciting, and don’t leave much room for creativity and future expansion.

The benefits of descriptive names is that they clearly communicate the intent of the brand.

However, the disadvantage of this type of name is that as a company grows, it may be difficult to expand and diversify beyond their literal descriptive name.

Examples of the descriptive brand names include:

  • The Weather Channel
  • Hotels.com
  • Bank of America
  • General Motors
  • Ancestry.com

2: Metaphorical Names

The opposite of a highly descriptive name is a metaphorical name.

These types of names are evocative, creative, and unique.

They leave room for interpretation and enable the brand to emphasize a story that is more engaging than just their products or services.

The benefits of choosing a metaphorical name is that they are usually easy to trademark.

However, since your name is not descriptive and obvious, you will need to rely heavily on your story and marketing to grow your brand.

Examples of the metaphorical brand names include:

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Nike
  • Tesla
  • Virgin

3: Lexical Names

If you are feeling especially clever, but not corny, you can create a Lexical name for your brand.

Lexical names represent a play on words.

They either alter the spelling of words to create something unique and memorable, or they combine two words to form a single word name.

Although these names can be fun, be careful not to play off of puns that could be interpreted as unprofessional and repel your audience.

Examples of the lexical brand names include:

  • Flickr
  • Tumblr
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Krazy Glue
  • FedEx

4: Acronym Names

An Acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word.

This type of name has been successful for some businesses, however in my opinion the difficulties associated with an acronymic name outweigh the benefits.

For example, acronyms are difficult for the consumer to learn and remember.

They also lack any meaning or emotion.

And as you’ve already learned, the success of your brand relies heavily on the connection it makes with the consumer.

Examples of brands who have founds great success using the acronymic names:

  • IBM
  • UPS
  • BMW
  • MTV
  • GE

5: Founder Names

Some of the most successful and incredible brands in the world were named after their founders.

These names are usually easy to trademark and protect.

But remember that a brand named after a founder will always be directly connected to that human and their actions.

Examples of the founder brand names include:

  • Ford
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Disney
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Calvin Klein

6: Geographical Names

Perhaps you want to connect your business to the location where it was started.

Geographical names will always instill the brand with whatever culture and historical association the consumer perceives of that region – both good and bad.

Even though you may be proud of your roots and want to show your appreciation to the location that helped you succeed, naming or renaming your brand after it’s home will have its limitations when attempting to expand beyond that region.

Examples of the geographical brand names include:

  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • New York Life
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Florida’s Natural
  • American Airlines

7: Invented

If all else fails, you can just make up a name.

Invented names are purley fabricated.

They have no connection to the business or the products and services the company offers.

An invented name is usually easy to trademark, and a domain will most likely be available.

This type of name may seem like a simpler solution to the other alternatives, but they are not as easy to conjure up as you may think.

You have to consider how it’s spoken, it’s cadence, how it looks when written, what it may mean in other cultures, and if there are any negative connotations with how it sounds.

But if done right, invented names can be very powerful and allow your brand to be flexible and adapt in the future.

Examples of Invented brand names are:

  • Google
  • Exxon
  • Verizon
  • Adidas
  • Pixar

As you can see, each brand type has its own pros and cons, and some will always be more effective than others.

Whatever type of brand name you decide on, it’s important to define expectations to your team prior to beginning the process.

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