How to Come Up with a Brand Name

How to Come Up with a Brand Name

So you’ve got your business plan up and running and are starting to wonder how to come up with a brand name. Making the right choice when selecting a brand name for your company is a hugely important step in establishing your business for several reasons.

Your brand name has the power to establish your identity in consumers’ minds. It can also lay the groundwork for a secure brand when it comes to trademarking your products and ensuring the legal future of your company’s intellectual property.

It can be hard to navigate brand name selection without getting overwhelmed or confused by all your options. Consider these strategies when narrowing down your name search.

Where Do Brand Names Come From?

How to Come Up with a Brand Name

Wondering how to come up with a brand name? There are a few different routes you can take when naming your brand. Consider some of these options as a starting point:

Your Name

This is a simple way to pick a brandname that will be unique to your company. You may have to do some extra marketing legwork to ensure that your name is associated with your services or products, but once you achieve that recognition, consumers will be able to identify your company in an instant.


There are so many buzzwords out there that are associated with specific industries and services. Consider making a list of them and combining two in an aesthetically pleasing way. This does the double duty of being descriptive of your company’s products and being recognizable or unique.

Foreign Words

Foreign languages are an easy way to pull in a sense of prestige for your brand, particularly within an English-speaking market. Consider your same list of buzzwords, but translated into another language. Careful, though! You’ll want to be certain that there aren’t any negative associations with the word, either in the original language, or with the way it sounds to an English-speaker.

Cultural References

Whether the reference is mythological (‘Nike’ is the greek goddess of victory) or to literature (Warby Parker is a combination of characters from a Keroac novel) or music (Rolling Stone Magazine’s name is derivative of multiple musical references), pulling from cultural material means that your consumers may already have an association with your brand. Even if your reference is more niche, taking a look at the art and culture that inspires you can be a great source of inspiration for your brand name.

Alternative Spellings

Pick a word or term that’s relevant to your business and spell it phonetically. There are likely several ways to sound out the name, so be sure to choose one that is visually pleasing and that doesn’t inspire confusion. This idea relates to adding or dropping letters as well, such as Tumblr chose to do.

Invent a Word

Kodak didn’t exist in the dictionary until Kodak Inc. invented the name. Pull from the associations you have with sounds or syllables if you’re feeling intimidated by the prospect of making up a word from scratch.

Be Descriptive

If you want zero confusion when it comes to consumers understanding what your company is all about, try just breaking down what you do to the simplest terms. Toys R Us, Paper Source, and others do exactly this. Being descriptive doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, though. Try to push yourself beyond the super obvious without losing your core descriptions.

Geographical References

This brand name concept can go two different ways. Brands like Adobe Systems or Fujifilm pulled their names from existing geographical features. Nantucket Nectars, on the other hand, is named for the locale in which their business began. Using the latter option can get tricky, depending on the nature of your business. This is because it’s highly likely that someone else has already used your city or town’s name in their brand. Make sure to research local businesses and trademarks if you decide to go that route.

How to Come Up with a Brand Name: Other Things to Consider

How to Come Up with a Brand Name

While brainstorming can be intimidating, there are other factors involved when thinking about how to come up with a brand name.

There are overarching things you need to consider after you have a few names on the table. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a few options, ask yourself these questions to make sure it holds up.

Is it memorable?

While brand recognition isn’t built overnight, you want your consumers to be able to remember your brand name fairly easily.

Is it too long?

You don’t want your brand name to be too much of a mouthful. Keep it short and sweet.

Are you sending mixed messages?

Ask people what they think of when they hear your brand name. If your business sells gardening supplies but people tell you the name makes them think of sports cars, you might be a little off.

Does it sound like another brand name you’ve heard before?

A big part of branding is avoiding confusion. You want to be distinct. If your brand name blurs together with the names of every other tech company or coffee distributor you won’t stand out.

Does it appeal to your target demographic?

If you’re going for a younger demographic, you want to make sure that your brand name doesn’t feel too stuffy. If your ideal consumer is part of a more established crowd, you might want something with a weightier feel to it.

How trendy is it?

This aspect of your brand name is a kind of balancing act. You want something that feels relevant but that also has staying power. Don’t base your brand name on slang terms that aren’t going to hold up over the next five years.

Can I get trademark protection for my brand name?

Before you invest heavily in intellectual property, make sure you’re taking the steps to legally protect it. You can plan for trademark protection from the beginning by choosing a legally strong trademark, picking a brand name that is unique, and registering your mark.


Once you’ve narrowed your list using these strategies, all that’s left to do is make a decision. Hopefully these tips helped ease any fears you might have about how to come up with a brand name.

After that choice is made, however, you need to see it through. Even through the ups and downs that often come with starting your own business, you need to hold onto the name. Your brand name is your identity within the market and the minds of consumers.

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    After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, three years and several companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.


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