How to Come Up With a Brand Name

A guide to naming your business the smart way.

When you read the word “Cher,” what image comes to mind? What about “Kanye?” Or “Adele?” We’re willing to bet most of you are on the same train of thought as we are. Maybe even in the same carriage. 

So, what’s in a name? Well, it turns out, quite a lot! A name has the power to invoke memories, feelings, and images. That’s why it’s crucial to develop the right brand name for your brand! The right name combines unique sounds and simplicity, familiarity and something new, the descriptive and the abstract. It’s also essential to choose a brand name that you’ll be able to stick with for as long as possible. If you constantly change up your name, you’re not going to drum up any brand loyalty because nobody will be able to recognize who you are! “The wrong name can do worse than fail to connect with customers; it can also result in insurmountable business and legal hurdles,” explains Forbes. “In contrast, a clear, powerful name can be extremely helpful in your marketing and branding efforts.”

Are you a little stuck as far as coming up with a brand name goes? Maybe you just can’t think of something that stands out while describing your business? Don’t worry; Dawning Digital is here to help. Here’s how to get started: 

1. Figure out what your business stands for.

You wouldn’t pick a name for a pet without seeing it, right? You might end up with a parrot called Fluffy or a kitten called Jaws (which, admittedly, is quite cute.) Similarly, you won’t be able to pick an effective name for your brand without knowing what your brand IS. When you undertake the process of creating a brand identity, it should with sitting down and putting pen to paper about the “why” behind what you’re doing. 

By defining the values you stand for, you’ve got a tremendous emotive starting point to work with when coming up with your brand name. If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck. We’ve created a FREE Branding Starter Pack for you to download, and it’s packed with important questions to define your brand that have been compiled to help you figure out the “why” behind what you’re doing. 

2. Research your brand's target audience.

If you’re marketing a trendy food truck to cool, urban youngsters, you’re not going to find a lot of success calling yourself NourishCorp Amalgamated. Similarly, suppose your offering is for corporate professionals in the financial sector. In that case, calling yourself Doctor Funky the Tax Wizard, though a brilliant thing to put on a business card, isn’t going to win you any brand loyalty.

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It’s crucial to understand the popular trends and tones amongst those you’re trying to sell to. You need to make sure you speak the same language as your potential customers. Ask yourself the following questions to establish who your target customer is:

How old are they?
What are their hobbies?
What jobs do they work in?
How do they spend their time?

From that information, develop a few customer personas, and start brainstorming brand names with them in mind. At this step, it’s crucial to bear in mind that younger audiences are much more likely to trust non-traditional brand names, so if your audience is older, keep your attempts a little more conservative. 

3. Brainstorm some brand names.

This is where the fun starts! Using the types of brand names we’re outlining below, come up with as many possible brand names as you can and write them down. You’ll edit them down to a shortlist later, but the writing process sometimes sparks ideas and connections you never had before! Try to come up with a few for each of these categories: 

This type is just putting together syllables that sound good! They can be derived from a root meaning or just something that sounds good. Try looking back to the values you defined in step one and letting syllables from those words flow together. For example, Dawning Digital believes in shining light and adding value. From that, we could come up with “Shinue” or even, if we were marketing to a more corporate audience, “AdLight.”

Try thinking of names that highlight the potential value your offering will add to a customer’s life. This immediately reframes what you’re doing from the customer’s perspective and makes them consider your offering valuable. For example, for Dawning Digital, we could potentially be called ENGAGE Digital or INBOUND Digital. 

What does your product or offering do? Make that your name. This tends to work better for products, such as “5-hour Energy.” As a service provider, Dawning Digital would be called “Digital Marketing & Brand Development.” We don’t think it has quite the same ring to it. This works better if you can define your product in three words or less.

You can use metaphors and stories to develop a name that doesn’t sound directly related but is! For example, we could call ourselves “Alba Digital” because “alba” means “dawn” in Italian. We could also call ourselves “Eos Marketing” as Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn.

If your last name is “Badde” or “Swindler,” you can skip this one! Jokes aside, this method is a classic, and by assigning a name to your brand, you automatically give it a face, which makes you more trustworthy. Our take on this would be “Spier Digital,” or even “Sol Markets,” because our founder and creative director’s name is Sol Spier. 

This one’s a classic, but it may take a bit of thought so that it rolls off the tongue nicely. For example, Dawning Digital would just become “DD,” which, when pronounced phonetically, just sounds like stuttering. However, if we were to abbreviate “Adding Value In Digital Marketing,” We’d be called AVID Marketing, which sounds pretty neat!  

The easiest way to let your audience know you’re a market leader? You just put that fact right in your name! This is a more traditional approach to naming, but you have to go by ear with how you phrase it. For example, “Best Buy” works effectively, but “Greatest Grocery Store in the Whole World, We’re Not Kidding” is probably taking the claim a little too far. We’d use “Engaging Marketers” or “Idea Pioneer Digital” for Dawning Digital. 

4. Edit your brand name shortlist.

For all the brand names you’ve chosen, ask the following questions:

Do I like this brand name?
Does it sound good out loud
Is it easy to spell? (We’re calling you OUT, Tag Hueueuer.)
Will this name grow as my brand does? 
Is there absolutely no possibility of this being offensive?
Is it catchy?
Will it look nice on products or business cards?

Discard every brand name that doesn’t answer “yes” to each of these questions. Then, go back through that list and throw out any that don’t make you excited. Now, you should have a shortlist of names you like. 

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5. Check your brand name’s availability.

It’s time to see whether or not your bright ideas were unique to you alone! You need to check if the names on your shortlist are already in use, and if they are, throw them out. You can check this in a few ways:

work brandname how to choose a brand name office desk flatlay branding

Use Google to see if there are any sites already using your desired name. You’ll want to start a website for your brand, but it could become confusing and difficult for customers to navigate if that domain is already taken. 

Make sure Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts with your brand name don’t already exist. Nobody likes it when you use underscores. Seriously.

If you’re registering your business in the USA, you can avoid legal problems by checking the United States Patent and Trademark Office website here. If you’re looking to check outside the USA, take a look at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s site here

6. Get feedback on your brand names.

You should be left with just a few strong contenders for your brand name, so now it’s time to ask your audience what they like. Those customer personas you built earlier should come in handy now! Gather a sample of your target audience, digitally or in person, and ask them which options they like and why! You want to appeal to your target market the most, so who better to ask than them? Don’t be too precious with your ideas at this stage. You WANT honesty. Throw out names that don’t resonate with this group. 

7. Make your final choice.

Now you’ve got a small list of brand names that have meaning, are available, are innovative, and make your audience happy. You probably have a clear favorite by this point, but it’s worth considering each option individually. Only you can make a choice here, but given how passionate you are about your business, we know you’ll make the right one! 

Welcome to the world, [insert awesome business name here]!

So now that you’ve decided what to call your business, where do you go from there? We think it’s time to start making that name known! Digital marketing is your brand’s most cost-effective gateway to the whole world and an invaluable growth tool if you know how to handle it. If you don’t just yet, we can help! Dawning Digital offers branding, website design, and social media packages to turn your idea into a fully functioning business. If you’d like to get an idea of what we do, please look at our Services page.