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How to Find The Perfect Brand Name For Your New Business


Logo Design Blog

Choosing a name for your brand or business is both exciting and challenging. Unless you’ve woken up one day struck with inspiration and just knew you had the one, you’re more likely to be toying around with a number of simple and abstract ideas, wondering which one to choose. Or perhaps you’re at ground zero, without any idea of what to call your business. Luckily, there are a few tried and tested ways of coming up with your new brand or business name. 

In this article: 

Start with strategy 

You can start the process of choosing your brand or business name by asking yourself a few questions and writing down the answers. You might have already done this in developing your brand strategy

You want to know:

  • What does your brand stand for/believe in? 
  • Who is your target audience? 
  • What does the competitive landscape look like in your niche? 
  • What is your USP/differentiator? 

You don’t want to name your brand on a whim. Ideally there should be some strategy behind it, in the sense that you understand your audience and what’s going to be appealing to them, and that your name is aligned with your brand values and unique selling proposition. 

Behind the brand name 

Your brand or business name can relate to your brand substance, desired market position, personality or a message you want to communicate to customers. Whatever you choose, the goal is to enhance brand recall – instant recognition when your brand name is said or shown. So you’re aiming for something that is simple, catchy and potentially even meaningful. Having said that, it doesn’t have to be immediately obvious what that meaning is, and that ambiguity can be good for your brand story (Adobe, for example, was named after the creek behind the founder’s house). 

Your brand name should also be phonetically appealing, unique and enduring – not based on current trends. This is, after all, an opportunity to get your brand and marketing messaging off to a flying start. 

Brand name development 

It’s time to put pen to paper to start generating ideas for your new brand name. Create a spreadsheet and list ideas across the top line using the different naming styles below that appeal to you. Then use the columns below to iterate on each idea. As you start to shortlist favourites, you can even try combining a few of your top picks to create something even more unique (for example, combining an industry term with the geographic inspiration). 

Business name matrix for a lawnmowing company

AcronymsFounder NameSensory Characteristics Descriptive
ELM (Every Lawn Mowed)Jim’s Mowing Fresh Cut GrassAll Lawns And Landscaping

Check out this list to get the creative juices flowing and help inspire your brand name development: 

  • Acronyms - AOL (America Online), BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). 
  • Merging - Evernote (forever and note).
  • Historical inspiration - Nike founder Phil Knight saw the statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, when travelling, and the rest is history. 
  • Foreign words - Exotic sounding, emotive. Häagen-Dazs sounds Danish but is actually from the Bronx in NY. It doesn’t mean anything in Danish!
  • Founder name - Only if you have a unique and appropriate name. Think Ferrari, Boeing, or even Adidas, which merges both founders’ names.
  • Geographically inspired - Amazon, Fuji.
  • Partnership structure - Using multiple business partners’ names, e.g. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. 
  • Industry terms - Pixar, which sounds like ‘pixel’, although it actually originated as a faux-Spanish word meaning “to make pictures”.
  • Descriptive - A business that does what it says on the tin, e.g. 7/11 (originally open 7am - 11pm) or Home Hardware (we don’t need to tell you what they do). 
  • Explore Latin - Dig into the etymology of industry terms and words that describe your business to see if anything stands out. Volvo, for instance, means ‘I roll’ (and was originally intended as a name for ball bearings). 
  • Characteristic alignment - Does your product resemble something you want it to align with? E.g. VW Beetle, Jaguar. 
  • Sensory characteristics - Sight, sound, taste. Twitter was named after a short burst of words from birds chirping to each other, much like the platform.
  • Abbreviate - Find a word with strong meaning for your business and extract part of it. Cisco, for instance, was founded in San Francisco. 
  • Alternative spelling - Take a word that you associate strongly with your brand and change the spelling so it is unique. Reebok is an alternative spelling of Rhebok, the South African antelope associated with speed and grace. You can add letters, remove letters, change letters – whatever works.
  • Story-based - A word that describes your story in a nutshell. Virgin was Richard Branson’s first move into the world of entrepreneurship, so he called his business, well, Virgin.
  • Purpose-based - A name that reflects something you believe in.  

Once you’ve got your shortlist, apply them to sentences about your brand that might apply in the real world. For example, your vision statement, mission statement, or a conversation about your business. It may sound awkward at first, but almost all names do. Just think about the first time Steve Jobs told someone his business name would be a piece of fruit! Repetition is key, so once you’ve chosen something, you’re best to stick with it. 

Other things to consider

Is it taken already? 

Once you’ve chosen a brand name, take to Google and check out if the name’s being used by someone in your industry. It’s not the end of the world if you have the same name as a business in another country, but you want to avoid doubling up if it’s in the same industry or geographical location. 

Is it ownable?

You might have found the perfect brand name, but if the URL/domain name isn’t available, you may want to reconsider. The same is true for social media handles, and ultimately copyright! Learn more about trademarking and copyright for your brand here. 

What if you want to change your brand name? 

If you landed on a brand name but it’s still not feeling right after a period of time, you may consider changing your business name. Just make sure you’re changing it for the right reasons, not just because you’re sick of it or have decided you don’t like it. 

The longer you keep your brand or business name, the more value it builds for your business. Be wary of losing brand equity that you have built up since starting your business. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do the benefits of the name change outweigh the loss of brand recognition? 
  • Does it still resonate with customers? 
  • Is it still memorable and unique in the market?
  • Are there costs involved you haven’t considered, e.g. rolling the name change out with new branding onto every touch point of your brand? 

Make sure you consider all these things before you make your decision. A name change can have a big impact on your business and brand, so it may be worthwhile – just try to be sure the pros outweigh any cons. Learn more about rebranding your business here. 

Read next: How To Write The Perfect Brand Strategy

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Chris

Chris Harris

FOUNDER | BRANDING & LOGO DESIGNER

Chris brings over a decade of industry experience to Red Kite working at design agencies in both the UK and Australia. Over the years he has accumulated a wealth of graphic design, strategic identity design and marketing experience. Chris is a hugely passionate identity designer endeavouring to offer the highest quality branding and logo design Brisbane and Australia wide. Chat to Chris about your branding.

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