Different types of brand names and how to choose the right one
There are many different types of brand names and you need to make an informed decision when choosing a brand name. That’s why we’ve written this article to help you navigate through the different types of brand names that are available so that you at least have a starting point in this process. As a marketer or business person you can be in the position of having to choose an entirely new brand name to having to change an existing brand name. Therefore, here are a couple of different types of brand names you can have as your yardstick.
What is a brand name?
In short, brand naming is a process where you identify a name for an offer; product, service or idea. Usually it’s for a company but it could also be for an organization. It could also be the process of naming several brands within a category and using similar names to make the brand category stand out. The process of naming a brand involves taking the time to look through the market and coming up with ideas and legally benchmarking those ideas towards any word trademarks or other restrictions that might be relevant for your company.
In this article we will go through the following types of brand names:
- Acronym Brand Names
- Invented Brand Names
- Lexical Brand Names
- Evocative Brand Names
- Descriptive Brand Names
- Founder Brand Names
- Geographical Brand Names
Acronymic Brand Names
A common type of brand name are acronymic ones, for good reason, especially in business-to-business settings or in rebranding projects that might previously have been using long or confusing names. Here are some examples of acronymic brand names: IBM, BMW and BP. IBM stands for International Business Machines, BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, and BP stands for British Petroleum. As you might quickly come to realize, each acronym helps these companies diversify their offer and provide their many target markets with a range of offers. So, what is an acronym that could work for your brand name? Maybe you have partnered with people and your last names could form an interesting acronymic brand name or your products, bundled together, could create a catchy acronym? Try and test against the trademarks that currently exist today, which might be a challenge. One problem with acronymic names is that they could come off as unemotional and miss the personality you might want in your branding, so be careful when designing your marketing communication plan with a brand name using an acronym.
Geographical Brand Names
Another type of brand name that you can use is a geographic brand name. If your business is connected to a specific geographical place and it shares strong ties to that birthplace, then a geographical brand name might be the right one for you. Also, if the offer your company provides tailors to a certain target audience that one occupies a certain region, then these types of names could work for you. It could also be that the birthplace of your company comes with certain bragging rights or historically well-known values that you want your company to emulate, then geographic tied names are a good option too. For example, Paris is known for fashion and taste and Germany for high-quality and productivity. Here are a couple of examples of geographic brand names: New York Times, Copenhagen Grooming, and Tiger of Sweden. One issue with geographic names is that you might exceed expectations and grow your business outside of the geographical area that’s included in your brand name, so be careful when selecting geographic brand names and make sure to stay up-to-date with what the region is associated with in prospective markets and new target audiences. These types of names might also be difficult to trademark, because, well they are geographic locations, so find a good word-mix.
Descriptive Brand Names
These are brand names such as Bank of America or General Motors. Descriptive brand names are describing the offer by a company and, due to this, they are often unremarkable. They can be very useful and leave less room for misinterpretation and like most names gives a larger organization a clear objective. For example, Ameribanksy might not be a cultural fit for the Bank of America brand. It can be difficult to diversify your product or service portfolio if the brand is too descriptive, so be careful if you see that happening in the near future. It can also be difficult to trademark a descriptive brand name, so watch out for that before making the final decision. Other well-known types of brand names that are descriptive are; hotels.com and Toys R Us.
Evocative Brand Names
Compared to descriptive brand names, evocative names are more unique and, if you plan on gaining considerable brand awareness, can give you plenty of upside. They give the viewer and listener an information gap that they themselves need to fill. For example, these are some evocative brand names: Apple, Amazon, and Nike. The original nature of evocative names makes them strong and able to be vehicles for product diversification. However, you might need to watch out for these types of names if you are running a smaller business and you leave your customers with too little information and they end up not understanding your offer, so be careful in your assessment. Evocative brand names are great if you plan to sell consumer goods to a larger target market and have the necessary funding or communicative resources to back up the marketing spend.
Invented Brand Names
If you find yourself in a situation where you really want to stand out from the crowd, an invented brand name might be the right way for you to go. Sometimes novelty makes the message stick and positions your brand better than what another type of brand name would. Some invented brand names are: Verizon, Google, and Exxon. When choosing an invented brand name, make sure you have the ability to position the brand effectively so that the invented name stands for something. Your marketing communications strategy will be very important when you choose an invented brand name, so choose the right storytelling and channels to support your brand. Invented brand names are often easier to legally trademark, which is one benefit to using them. However, make sure your customers understand what your core business is so that it is not unclear when you have an invented brand name, that’s very important.
Lexical Brand Names
Lexical brand names use playful wording to form company names. These types of brand names can combine sounds and meaning, and can be used in a number of different ways. You can mix different words up and spell words the wrong way. Like our name for example, Storisell, would maybe in a perfect world be spelled Story Sell, but by adding an “i” we make it a little more unique. One trick with lexical names could be to try to find two or more industry needs and values that relate to your target audience and form a brand name based on those words. Another could be to use a mix of greek or latin words to form your brand name. Here are some examples of lexical brand names: Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme. The issue with lexical names are several but if you tie them to what your customers really need and are looking for it can be powerful. One problem that could arise could, for example, be that the word-playing comes off as immature or vague, so watch out for these issues.
Founder Brand Names
In some instances it makes sense to create founder-based brand names. It could be due to a familial connection, previous well-known experience that a founding member or members have, or, just simply, that you want to. Here are some types of founder brand names: Ralph Lauren, Ford, and IKEA. You might have noticed that IKEA also is an acronymic brand name and that’s right, but it’s also the initials of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad and the farm where he grew Elmtaryd and the local village, Agunnaryd. IKEA is therefore a mix of the brand name types; founder, acronymic and geographical. No wonder it went so well for the furniture giant from Sweden. These types of names tend to be easier to trademark, if your name isn’t John Doe or Anders Andersson. Founder names could also require a significant marketing spend, so keep that in mind when you make your decision.
Here a quick recap of the different types of brand names and some companies that have chosen these names:
- Acronym Names – IBM, IKEA, BMW, BP
- Invented Names – Verizon, Google, Exxon
- Evocative Names – Apple, Amazon, Nike
- Descriptive Names – Bank of America, General Motors
- Lexical Names – Storisell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme
- Founder Names – Ralph Lauren, Ford, IKEA
- Geographical Names – New York Times, Copenhagen Grooming, Tiger of Sweden
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