When it comes to branding, one of the most important things to determine is your company name. As well as appearing on all of your marketing collateral, it’s how your customers will be able to identify you and it’s how you’ll be referred to by media outlets, so you have to be 100% sure that it’s right. While it is possible to change your brand name if you decide further along the line that a re-brand is necessary, you’ll have to be prepared to let go of any positive associations you’ve worked so hard for. So it’ll take a lot less time, money and effort if you get it right in the first place. But with so much flexibility and choice, choosing a name for your business might not be as easy as it sounds. With that in mind we thought it would be helpful to outline the four primary categories of brand names:
1. Descriptive branding: Indicates what the company, service or product is or does
This is the oldest class of brand names. For example, Thornton’s was established by Joseph William Thornton in 1911 and the name was derived from its founder. If the aim of your branding is to be as straightforward and easy to understand as possible, you might want to opt for a descriptive name as they’re also effective for describing what the business does. Names like Subway – which serves sub sandwiches – and PayPal – which is a payment company – clearly position the brands and make it easy for consumers to identify their services and products. The downside to having a descriptive name is that it can be constraining. So if you think you might want to branch out and sell a different type of product or service in the future, a descriptive name might not be the best option.
2. Acronym branding: An abbreviation of a descriptive name
Whether deliberately or organically, descriptive names are sometimes shortened to a few letters. Names like IBM and HP are easier to remember, quicker to say and easier to trademark. But the downside is that they can lack soul. Even when they’re used a great deal, it’s unlikely that they evoke much emotion as they’re simply a grouping of letters.
3. Inventive or abstract branding: A made up word
If you want to be really creative with your branding, you might want to think about making up your company name. Invented brand names such as Google, Kodak and Twitter are powerful because they don’t come with any baggage and again are easier to trademark. It’s important to remember that not all invented words make compelling brand names but when it’s done right this is perhaps the most effective name type- more on this here
4. Experiential branding: Builds on the feeling or experience a brand delivers
These are the most powerful types of brand names because they’re positioning statements which help a company stand out on the marketplace by setting an expectation of what it’s like to choose them. Iconic brands such as Apple and Virgin fall under this category, but if you want to benefit from the same level of success as them, you need to have a deep understanding of your business and what it stands for before the naming process begins. If your name and branding aren’t in sync with the positioning of your business, you’ll lose impact.