Guide: How to create a brilliant brand name

One of the hardest questions for a start-up business will be:

“How do we create a brand name?”

A company name is not the most important factor for a startup business but hopefully, the business name you choose won’t just be a name, it will become a great brand name. 

In an ideal world, the business name would be short, catchy, meaningful to both the business and customer and have a domain name available.  Take all of that into account and the creation of a new brand name becomes really hard.

I’ve helped to brand many businesses and come across all sorts of brand name ideas. Some were horror stories whilst some were spot on but what makes a good business name, a good brand name?

Some of the best projects I’ve worked on have been for businesses that had a straight, honest and clear reason for using a particular brand name, a reason which correlated directly to the brand in one way or another and that’s what made them good projects and good brand names.

Some just tried to make up a cool word for their brand name. It may have sounded good but just didn’t resonate with anything.  With regards to branding and business names here are some guidelines and ideas on how to create a business name effectively for the long run.

Any business name will fall into one or maybe all of the following categories:

  1. A made up brand name. (two words joined to make one or a name adapted from an already existing word)
  2. A real persons name (named after a person)
  3. A symbolic business name (one which expresses the business in the form of an idea)
  4. What it says on the tin ( a name which simply says what the business is/does)

There are millions of words that you could use to name your brand but by creating a communication strategy and segmenting business name ideas into the above list, you’ll have dwindled down millions of possible business name ideas into a smaller number of focused and relative brand name ideas.

By doing the above we already have 2 solid ideas for your new business name but lets explore all the options for your new company name further.

1. A made up brand name.

A made up business name can be the most daring type of brand name because we can get carried away with creativity and a gimmicky approach. For some reason, we all think (even I’ve had the misconception) that a gimmicky name is a surefire recipe for success. A gimmicky name will create a brand and bring in huge sales because it’s so catchy and clever.

Our notions are completely wrong. The business name should not be used to define the brand, it should be the brand that defines the business name. I’ve come across people who simply took two totally unrelated words and put them together because they sounded stylish to create a brand name. As well as being a totally meaningless made up word, they were meaningless to the business itself. The focus was on creating a name that sounded cool and slick whilst their service/products and business were totally forgotten.

It’s like taking the Mercedes logo and sticking it on the front of a childrens nursery. There’s nothing wrong with either of the elements except they don’t match, their irrelevant to each other and tell you absolutely nothing about the business or its values. Overall it lacks communication to the client and throws the whole brand into a maze.

Don’t get me wrong, a made-up name can work wonders if used correctly. A brand name that’s relevant to the industry or the brand itself is a brilliant idea so if you do decide to use a gimmicky/made up business name make sure it’s not one made up aesthetically for branding purposes. Make sure it’s your business idea that created the name and that it’s a relevant brand name which reinforces the brand values.


  • Coca-cola – Derived from it’s ingrediants, Kola Nuts & Coka Leaves
  • Microsoft – Derived from MicroComputers & Software
  • Intel – Derived from Integrated Electronics

2. A persons name for a brand name

A persons name can be a great way to create a brand or just present an idea in the simplest form. It can create a more traditional feeling of trust and character with an instant connotation to brand values by relating it back to a person.

It may be a boring idea and say little about a business but with a strapline it’s a straight forward and honest approach to creating a unique identity.

It’s also used to project an image of experience and history, showing real expertise rather then marketing glamour.

Real names can also be entered into another category in today’s market with the use of celebrity endorsements but again the main goal is still the same, relating back to a person to show character and reach a market effectively.

The great thing about using a real name is that its classic to a degree.  It’ll withstand trends and you can update the brand identity design easily at any time to stay current.


  • McDonalds
  • Adidas
  • John Lewis
  • ThorntonGrant

3. A symbolic name.

Symbolic business names usually come down to a bigger idea, a way of expressing your brand with the use of connotation. The brand name may be totally unrelated to the business activities but correlate directly with the business brand. It can also be thought of as the mission goal.

Using a name that doesn’t correspond directly to your business is fine. Infact they probably work the best with regards to success rate. It doesn’t have to be blatantly obvious what you do but make sure the name derived from your brand or business in some way (not just a nice sounding name). Keep it honest and truthful, relevant and original. It shows character and links back to your business brand/history in some way.

  • Orange
  • Paramount Pictures
  • Nike
  • Apple

4.What it says on the tin

This might be a boring approach but also the safest. There’s no cleverness or risk of misinterpretations, just a straight forward business name. Communication is direct and so is the business. Often gives a hint of seriousness because there are no gimmicks or fancy work involved, it’s intended to be a no qualms business name and service.

  • British Telecom
  • NTL

So, how do you pick your brand name?

A brand name alone won’t make you millions but it plays a part in how you communicate your business. It sends messages to your potential clients and if you’re using the wrong message you won’t get much response. Whatever route you take there’s one common tactic for a successful business name which is mentioned in all three tips above.

“Relevancy is important.”

Have a solid reason for calling your business a particular name and that reason should flow back to the brand, values and or history.

The design of the logo and identity will also affect the business name with the use of fonts, colours and symbols so options such as 2 and 4 don’t have to be a boring approach, it could be quite the opposite. It may also solve any weaknesses found in options 1 & 3 where the message is not so obvious.

If you keep relevance at the heart of your brand name then you’ll find in the long run that your brand name actually stands for something and will never feel outdated, stupid or questionable.


  • Yes i think your article is correct.I think its worth mentioning though that getting some mates in with a few beers and have a brain storming session on a name for yor new venture could be of great help.I have a question on freeindex asking for some ideas on a new name for my new venture and have seen some great ideas.This is free and the ideas come from people who are in that field,so it may pay to do that.

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