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What Makes a Good Brand Name?

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

What Makes a Good Brand Name

A great brand name isn’t just a label, a mock-up you made, or a generated doohickey through a prompt. It requires real thinking about creating a great name for your brand to live on for years.

You want a brand name that isn’t just good, but magnetic.

A name that sticks in people’s minds, gets them talking, and more importantly, opens their wallets.

Key Points I Look at When Creating a Brand Name:

Key Points I Look at When Creating a Brand Name

1. Memorability:

Memorability is king. If people can't remember your brand, forget about them buying from you.

The trick is simplicity and stickiness. Short, snappy names that resonate are your ticket to staying power in a customer's mind.

And remember, it's not just about being memorable; it's about being remembered for the right reasons. Think Apple, not some forgettable, convoluted tech jargon.

2. Distinctiveness:

If you're echoing what everyone else is doing, you're just another face in the crowd.

Be bold, be different, but don’t be bizarre.

Your brand name needs to cut through the noise like a hot knife through butter, standing out in a marketplace that’s more crowded than a Walmart on Black Friday.

3. Meaningfulness:

A name needs to pack a punch, carrying a story or a promise. It’s not just a label; it’s your first sales pitch.

When someone hears your brand name, they should get an immediate sense of 'Ah, that’s what these folks are about.' No fluff, no filler, just straight-to-the-point significance.

4. Flexibility:

Don’t box yourself in with a name that's a one-trick pony. Your brand name should be like a good suit: tailored enough to fit what you’re doing now, but with enough give to accommodate where you’re headed.

Stay nimble, stay adaptable.

5. Positive Connotations:

Positive connotations are your secret weapon.

Your name has to bring a smile, not a frown. It’s not just a name; it's an emotion, an expectation, a story. Do your homework.

Make sure your name resonates positively across the board, or you’ll be doing damage control instead of raking in profits.

6. Ease of Pronunciation and Spelling:

Make it easy to pronounce and spell.

If they can’t say it, they can’t share it. If they can’t spell it, they can’t Google it. Your brand name should roll off the tongue and not lead to a spelling bee contest.

Clarity is key in an age where word of mouth and online presence are everything.

7. Legally Defensible:

Legally defensible – boring, but non-negotiable.

Your name is a valuable asset. Protect it. Make sure it’s not stepping on any legal toes, or you’ll have bigger problems than just marketing.

A bit of due diligence now can save you a mountain of legal headaches later.

8. Suitability for Web Use:

In today’s world, if you’re not online, you don’t exist.

Your brand name needs to be web-ready – think domain names, social media, Google searches. It’s digital real estate, and you want prime property.

A name that’s a nightmare to find online is like setting up shop in the middle of nowhere.

9. Scalability:

Scalability – this is about ambition, about vision.

Don’t pick a name that’ll fit your business like a tight shoe in five years. You want a name that grows with you, whether you’re expanding to new markets or launching new products.

A scalable name is like a good investment; it pays dividends down the road.

10. International Appeal:

Last but not least, international appeal. Today’s market is global.

Ensure your brand name doesn’t turn into an embarrassing blunder in another language. The last thing you need is finding out your brand name is slang for a blooper in another country.

Cross-cultural checks are not just a good idea; they’re business-critical.

Great Brand Names You Can Model & Their Stories

Great Brand Names You Can Model & Their Stories

- Apple (Apple Inc.):

  • Story: Apple, co-founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, is one of the most iconic brand names. Jobs wanted a name that was "fun, spirited, and not intimidating," something that would set the company apart from the cold, technical names common in the tech industry.
  • Why Effective: The name is simple, memorable, and approachable. It suggests something fresh and innovative. It also positioned the company as user-friendly and accessible in a field often perceived as complex and intimidating.

- Google (Google LLC):

  • Story: Originally named 'Backrub,' the company changed its name to Google, a play on the word 'googol'—a mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros, reflecting the founders' mission to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.
  • Why Effective: The name is unique, memorable, and reflects the immense scope of the search engine's capabilities. It's also become a verb ('to google'), signifying its dominance and importance in everyday life.

- Amazon (, Inc.):

  • Story: Jeff Bezos chose 'Amazon' for his online bookstore because it was “exotic and different” and as a reference to the Amazon River, the largest in the world, symbolizing the size and scale he envisioned for his company.
  • Why Effective: The name communicates vastness and variety, aligning with the brand's expansive inventory. It’s memorable and has grown to become synonymous with online shopping.

- Nike (Nike, Inc.):

  • Story: Originally named Blue Ribbon Sports, the company rebranded as Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory. The name aligns with the brand’s association with athleticism, competition, and winning.
  • Why Effective: It’s short, powerful, and conveys a strong message of triumph and athleticism. The name, coupled with the iconic 'Swoosh' logo, encapsulates movement and speed.

- Tesla (Tesla, Inc.):

  • Story: Named after Nikola Tesla, the inventor, and electrical engineer, the name honors his contribution to electrical engineering. It’s fitting for a company that’s at the forefront of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology.
  • Why Effective: It has historical and intellectual connotations, appealing to an audience that values innovation and forward-thinking. It evokes a sense of cutting-edge technology and homage to a pioneering inventor.

- Coca-Cola (The Coca-Cola Company):

  • Story: The name 'Coca-Cola' comes from two of its original ingredients: coca leaves and kola nuts. The repetition of the hard 'C' sound makes it catchy, and the name itself has a rhythmic flow to it.
  • Why Effective: It’s rhythmic, memorable, and has become synonymous with soft drinks worldwide. Its ubiquity and strong branding have made it one of the most recognized names globally.

- Airbnb (Airbnb, Inc.):

  • Story: Originally named 'AirBed & Breakfast,' the name was a nod to the air mattresses the founders had guests sleep on. The name was later shortened to Airbnb, making it more brandable and memorable.
  • Why Effective: It's short, snappy, and captures the essence of the service—sharing homes and experiences. It has now become synonymous with alternative lodging and peer-to-peer accommodation services.

- Spotify (Spotify Technology S.A.):

  • Story: The origins of the name are a bit of a mystery, even to the founders. One story suggests it was a combination of "spot" and "identify," while another states it was a made-up name that just stuck.
  • Why Effective: It’s unique, catchy, and easy to remember. The name suggests a personalized experience in finding and enjoying music, which is at the core of the service’s offering.

Brands That Should’ve Thought Twice Before Slapping On A Logo Or Name:

Brands That Should’ve Thought Twice Before Slapping On A Logo Or Name

- Comcast’s “Xfinity” Rebranding:

  • The Blunder: Comcast, trying to escape a reputation for poor customer service, rebranded its services as Xfinity.
  • My Take: Slapping a fancy name on a problem doesn’t fix it. It's like putting lipstick on a pig. Customers see right through it. The lesson? Fix your service, not just your name.

- Consolidated Brain (formerly

  • The Blunder: In an attempt to rebrand, changed to Consolidated Brain, a name that sounds more like a sci-fi experiment than a digital agency.
  • My Take: When choosing a brand name, clarity beats cleverness. 'Consolidated Brain' sounds like a B-movie title, not a business you’d trust your digital presence with. Stick to names that tell, not confuse.

- Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing):

  • The Blunder: Tribune Publishing, aiming for digital innovation, rebranded as Tronc (Tribune Online Content).
  • My Take: If your brand name sounds like a sound effect from a cartoon, reconsider. Tronc not only confuses but also cheapens the image. It’s a classic case of trying too hard to be modern and falling flat.

- Eefoof (Social Media Platform):

  • The Blunder: Eefoof, an attempt to create a social media platform where users could share videos, photos, and music.
  • My Take: If saying your brand name requires a pronunciation guide, you've gone wrong. Eefoof is not only hard to pronounce but utterly forgettable. In the social media game, that’s a fatal flaw.

- Kuick (Quick Service Restaurant Chain):

  • The Blunder: A quick-service restaurant chain that tried to play clever by replacing 'Quick' with 'Kuick'.
  • My Take: This is a classic case of unnecessary complication. Kuick? It's just inviting mispronunciations and misspellings. Keep it simple, or you’re inviting trouble.

- Bungie Cordz (Electronics Accessories Brand):

  • The Blunder: An electronics brand trying to be hip by using 'z' instead of 's' in 'Cords'.
  • My Take: Using a 'z' where an 's' should be might sound cool in a boardroom, but in reality, it’s just gimmicky. It undermines the brand’s seriousness. If you want to be taken seriously, spell like an adult.

- Pee Cola (Soft Drink):

  • The Blunder: An unfortunately named soft drink from Ghana.
  • My Take: This is a prime example of not considering cultural connotations. What might work in one language can be a disaster in another. Always check the cross-cultural implications of your brand name.

- Theranos (Health Technology Company):

  • The Blunder: Initially sounded innovative, combining 'therapy' and 'diagnosis', but became synonymous with deception and scandal.
  • My Take: A name can turn sour. Theranos started as a beacon of innovation but ended up a byword for fraud. Your brand name carries your reputation, for better or worse. Be sure the business lives up to the name.

Remember, your brand name is more than just a collection of letters. It's the first handshake with the customer, the first step in telling your story.

Get it wrong, and it's an uphill battle to win trust and recognition. Make it clear, make it memorable, and above all, make sure it doesn’t become the punchline of a joke.

I would advise you to not spend too much time in this process because what you should be doing is mainly focusing on client acquisition. Competing with other organizations and making bank.

My earlier businesses had weird names but they made a lot of money through my name. For example, Glazer Kennedy Inner Circle (, which is now Magnetic Marketing.

It is a much much much better name because it is no longer dependent on Bill Glazer or Me. It can become an organization of its own. It can become a sellable asset in the future.

So there you have it. How to create a good brand name that sticks and is remembered for long periods of time.

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